WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Federal health officials issued a warning against synthetic marijuana contaminated with rat poison that has already caused the death of three people in Illinois.
- The fake weed has also sent over a hundred of people to hospitals in the state and in four other states.
- Victims complained of symptoms that include severe bloody noses, bleeding gums, coughing up blood, blood in the urine and internal bleeding.
Investigators are still uncertain how the synthetic marijuana got tainted with rat poison, Renee Funk of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told The Associated Press on Tuesday. A team of investigators was sent to Illinois by the CDC. The state has the most number of cases that have been reported.
“This is an unusual outbreak,” Funk said.
There were also cases of people suffering from severe bleeding reported in Indiana, Maryland and Missouri and Wisconsin. The CDC is alarming doctors nationwide to be watchful for more such cases.
The outbreak has hit Illinois the hardest, killing two men in their 20s and a man in his 40s, the Illinois Department of Public Health said. A third person who suffered from severe bleeding has recently died in the state, health officials confirmed.
“Each day we’ve seen the number of cases rise. Synthetic cannabinoids are unsafe. They are not regulated and people don’t know what chemicals may be in them, like rat poison,” said Nirav Shah, Illinois’ public health director.
“While efforts are underway to get the contaminated drugs out of circulation, it’s possible they could re-emerge. We urge people not to use synthetic cannabinoids now or ever,” Shah warned.
These synthetic cannabinoids are retailed as “Spice” or K2. Chemicals are sprayed on “dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices,” the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) said.
They are promoted as safe and legal alternatives to marijuana and give almost the same effects on the brain like cannabis. But according to NIDA, they are not safe. In fact, they have stronger effects on the brain than natural marijuana.
According to the CDC, more than 60,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016 with 66 percent of the deaths involving a prescription painkiller or an illegal opioid like fentanyl.
“No area of the United States is exempt from this epidemic,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat said in a statement. “We all know a friend, family member or loved one devastated by opioids.”
Source: NBC News