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Friday, April 29, 2016

Synthetic Marijuana Hospitalizations in California

Synthetic drugs (excuse the cliché) are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. Incidents involving synthetic marijuana and bath salts continue to occur throughout the country, usually requiring emergency services. The side effects that accompany the use of the powerful chemicals used to make synthetic drugs are highly unpredictable. In order to stay one step ahead of government bans, chemists in clandestine laboratories, usually in China, are constantly altering the chemical variations. Lack of oversight and testing means that synthetic drug users have no idea what to expect, the experience they had before may not be what they experience the next time.

Last weekend, fifteen people were hospitalized in Los Angeles after they ate synthetic cannabis, The Washington Post reports. In November, 13 people got sick after eating synthetic cannabinoids, often sold under the brand names Spice and K2. Synthetic marijuana is most commonly smoked; however, more and more people are choosing to ingest the deadly plant matter sprayed with chemicals. Synthetic marijuana users report experiencing:
  • Violent Behavior
  • Other Aggressive Symptoms
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
“They are cutting it with something lethal,” said local mission head Rev. Andy Bales to the Los Angeles Times. “We’ve seen violence and convulsions…. I saw a guy rolling into the street on Friday.”

Despite the horror stories in the news regarding synthetic drug use, people continue to use these at alarming rates, as is evident by reports from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. In 2013, poison centers received 2,688 calls related to synthetic cannabinoids. There were roughly 1,000 more calls in 2014, but there was a total of 7,794 call in 2015. This year, between January 1 and March 31, poison centers received 862 calls related to synthetic marijuana. Clearly, people are going to continue to use these insidious substances, which is why legislation needs to be passed to limit people’s ability to acquire them, and to create a ban that encompasses any variation of chemical.

"That once again shows a reason to explore other ways of banning substances not just by chemical structure but by their pharmaceutical action in the brain," Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, told CBC News.

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