Two deaths among 56 cases of severe bleeding in Chicago, Illinois, and surrounding areas have been directly attributed to “Spice,” also known as “K2” or “fake weed.”
Among the symptoms that hospitalized all 56 victims were coughing up blood, blood in the urine, bloody noses, and bleeding gums. Nine of those cases even tested positive for brodifacoum, a type of rat poison. It remains unclear, however, where the drugs in question were obtained. Such products are available online but also even in convenience stores and gas stations.
Illinois Department of Public Health Spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said that “this is the first time we’ve seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area” and stressed that they are “working with numerous different partners across the city and state as we investigate this outbreak.”
The department’s Director, Dr. Nirav Shah, said in a statement that they “continue to see the number of cases rise.” According to Shah, they continue to “work with local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other partners, to try to identify common products.”
However, “without more information, IDPH does not know how much contaminated product is circulating or where.” The warning was spelled out very clearly: “We strongly urge everyone not to use synthetic cannabinoids,” he said.
This is Chicago’s first synthetic weed fatality, but certainly not for the country at large. America’s problem with the dangerous and unregulated drug — which despite the terminology has very little in common with marijuana at all — is only growing. The drugs have been found to be approximately 85 times as potent as actual weed and cause intense side effects such as rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, hallucinations, heart attacks, kidney failure, seizures, and even death.
It is also difficult to know for sure whether the synthetic weed was purposely laced with poison, inadvertently contaminated, or if this is the result of a new type of synthetic. But in the meantime, it is probably best that would-be users pause to consider their choices before smoking literal pest control.