Health authorities are warning the public about synthetic marijuana laced with rat poison as the fake weed already killed three people in Illinois and caused severe bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, and gum in more than 100 individuals.
More Than 100 Sickened By Fake Weed Tainted With Rat Poison
Earlier this week, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported the third death linked to the use of synthetic cannabinoids, also called Spice, K2, Kush, or fake weed. The first two deaths occurred in men who were in their 20s and the third occurred in a man in his 40s.
At least 107 people in central Illinois and Chicago have already been reported suffering from severe bleeding after using fake weed. These individuals reported finding blood in their urine, coughing up blood, bleeding gums, severe bloody nose, and internal bleeding. Many tested positive for brodifacoum, a lethal anticoagulant used as ingredient in rat poison.
Illnesses have already been linked to use of fake marijuana tainted with dangerous substances such as bug spray that can cause zombie-like effects.
Renee Funk, from the U.S Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, however, said that this is the first outbreak that involves contamination with rat poison. Individuals who were sickened need to be hospitalized and treated with vitamin K to control the bleeding.
"This is an unusual outbreak," Funk said.
The CDC has already alerted doctors nationwide that patients who show severe and unexplained bleeding could be additional cases of poisoning linked to contaminated fake weed.
Synthetic cannabinoid are man-made mind-altering substances that are sprayed on to dried plant materials, which are then smoked or used as liquids to be vaporized in e-cigarettes. They are sold in smoke shops, gas stations, convenience stores, drug paraphernalia shops, and online.
These chemicals are called cannabinoids since they are similar to chemicals present in marijuana plant.
These products may be marketed as an alternative to marijuana but they have been associated with outbreaks of illness regardless that they are not tainted with a poison. Health authorities have long warned that use of synthetic cannabinoids can have unpredictable and potentially deadly consequences.
Use of synthetic cannabinoids is also known to cause muscle damage, kidney damage, seizures, and psychosis.
"Synthetic cannabinoids are unsafe. They are not regulated and people don't know what chemicals may be in them, like rat poison," said IDPH Director Nirav Shah. "We urge people not to use synthetic cannabinoids now or ever."