Fake weed tied to 38 cases of severe bleeding in Illinois

Brandon Parsons
April 4, 2018

The term "synthetic cannabinoids" applies to numerous mind-altering chemicals similar to those in marijuana that are used to create substitutes, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Two people have now been reported dead among dozens of cases of synthetic marijuana users who've turned up to IL hospitals in recent weeks complaining of severe bleeding.

All cases have required hospitalization for symptoms such as coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody nose, and/or bleeding gums.

"We continue to see the number of cases rise", said IDPH director Dr. Nirav Shah, who had previously called the synthetics "unsafe" due to the unknown chemicals used.

IDPH officials warn that the contaminated products could be in any county across the state.

Illinois State Police and Chicago Police allegedly traced several of the cases to King Mini Mart in Lawndale, according to the Chicago Tribune.

To date, IDPH has reports of 56 people, including two deaths, in the Chicago area and in central IL who have experienced severe bleeding and reported using synthetic cannabinoids.

During that time, physicians treated 456 patients total for synthetic cannabinoid intoxications. Synthetic cannabinoids are found across IL and the U.S.in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, and online.

"Illinois has not seen something on this scale tied to synthetic cannabinoids", Arnold said.

The two deaths occurred in Peoria County and Kane County, and cases have been reported in nine counties so far outside Chicago.

The number of acute poisonings from synthetic cannabinoids rose sharply between 2010 and 2015, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016.

In November 2016, about 300 people in St. Louis were hospitalized from overdoses of synthetic versions of THC.

They consist of a mix of plant material - herbs or spices, hence the name - that have been sprayed with chemicals to mimic the effects of marijuana and other cannabinoids.

In the 1980s, synthetic cannabinoids were considered research compounds but they are now produced overseas, according to the CDC.

"We hope that anyone that's a legitimate business ... will say we aren't going to sell this stuff", Gengler said. "Or if this is potentially a new side effect of a new synthetic cannabinoid".

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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