Officials warn of fatal case of synthetic marijuana use

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02 April, 2018

IL public health officials are warning users of synthetic pot about the ultimate buzz kill - a rash of cases of severe bleeding that are believed to be linked to contaminated drugs. Additional cases have been reported across the state.

Fake weed is illegal in IL, but crafty manufacturers often tweak the formula of products to circumvent state laws, allowing them to be sold legally. Those who have been hospitalized obtained the products in convenience stores, from dealers and friends, she said.

The people who were admitted to the hospital with bleeding eyes and ears admitted to having used synthetic pot, but it is unclear what their source was. "They can contain a variety of chemicals, and users often don't know what those are, such as rat poison", said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.

"People don't realize how unsafe this is", she said. They trigger similar brain cell receptors as the main active ingredient in marijuana, known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), according to the IDPH.

Synthetic cannabis is human-made to simulate the effects of marijuana, they are commonly sprayed on dried plants or consumed through E-cigarettes. The products are also sometimes referred to as herbal or liquid incense.

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The Illinois Department of Public Health is blaming synthetic cannabinoids for a string of severe bleeding cases that have resulted in one death so far. The report stated that most of the patients were from Chicago, but urged people across IL to watch out for this spiked product as they can be anywhere in the state.

The health effects which are linked to the usage of synthetic cannabinoids are harmful and unpredictable as well.

Shah says they're unsafe because it's hard to know what chemicals they contain or what an individual's reaction will be. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found the use of fake weed can increase risky and violent behaviors, particularly among teens.

CDPH recommends that anyone using synthetic cannabinoids and experiencing severe, unexplained bleeding or bruising to be taken to the hospital immediately or call 911.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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