At least 12 people in downtown San Diego, including one 13-year-old, had fallen ill after smoking a synthetic marijuana drug combination known as "Spice," authorities reported.
Officials from the Police and Fire-rescue Department in San Diego said the incidents occurred near 6th Avenue and C Street downtown. Fire Capt. Joe Amador said they began receiving calls from the East Village and Gaslamp districts at around 1 PM as of Nov. 22.
Initial reports said the incident was a drunken brawl or a tainted brownie, but police have confirmed that a group had indeed become sick after smoking Spice.
The patients, at least five adults and five juveniles whose ages ranged from 13 to 45 years old, suffered mild to serious side effects after taking spice.
Several patients were unconscious as some had passed out in the middle of the street after taking the drug. Other patients were vomiting, and some were experiencing runny nose, officials said. One of the patients even had a seizure. Several patients were sent to the hospital.
"They are disoriented [and] they are slightly hallucinogenic," said SDPD Battalion Chief Mike Finnerty. "They ramble when they talk."
Of the patients, two had evidently taken much more than the others, Finnerty said. These two are currently in critical condition.
Investigators are trying to trace all the witnesses, victims and the people who sold the drug. They believe the spice may have been sold in black packaging with blue dragons on the side.
Spice is typically marketed in marijuana stores and online as Mojo, Annihilation or Black Mamba. The synthetic drug mimics the effects produced by marijuana.
"It's a manufactured substance and depending on who manufactured it, it could be of different qualities, different strengths," explained Finnerty.
He said that the batch of Spice that the victims had accessed may have been much stronger than what they usually took. It could also be that the synthetic drug may have some other unknown chemical added that was not normally put in it.
Authorities have then warned the public the health dangers of mixing herbs and chemicals. They are asking people if they are aware of purchasing Spice.
Meanwhile, the Drug Enforcement Agency started a nationwide crackdown on the synthetic marijuana drug.