The fake weed problem in Illinois only worsens. Tech Times previously reported 22 cases of severe bleeding due to smoking "K2" or "Spice," but now, that number has climbed to 56, two of which being full-on deaths.
Synthetic marijuana, more commonly called by its aforementioned colloquial terms, has been found to be highly dangerous. Of the reported cases in Illinois, the drug has caused users to cough up blood, observe blood in their urine, get nosebleeds, and experience a number of other symptoms, like bleeding from their eyes and ears.
The two victims were both male and in their 20s, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Nearly half of the cases came from the Peoria area, while over 20 cases came from Chicago.
Synthetic Marijuana Contained Brodifacoum
Nine cases tested positive for rat poison brodifacoum as confirmed by the IDPH. Bleeding from the eyes and ears, symptoms previously unrelated to synthetic marijuana use, are associated with brodifacoum.
Exposure to brodifacoum results in the body blocking its natural use of vitamin K, which is crucial to the process of blood clotting, explains Patrick Lank, a medical toxicologist of the Northwestern Memorial Hospital. A person who has been exposed to this chemical may have to take high doses of vitamin K for a period of weeks to manage their symptoms.
"We continue to see the number of cases rise," said Nirav D. Shah, IDPH director. "IDPH is continuing to work with local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other partners, to try to identify common products. Without more information, IDPH does not know how much contaminated product is circulating or where. We strongly urge everyone not to use synthetic cannabinoids."
Fake Weed Outbreak In Illinois
Many questions about the unfortunate outbreak still loom large. Health officials remain with little clues as to what caused the drug contamination, although investigators are resuming their investigation.
"This is the first time we've seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area," said IDPH spokesperson Melaney Arnold, adding that the state's health department is collaborating with different partners across the city and state as it looks into the outbreak.
Synthetic marijuana can be found in convenience stores, novelty stores, drug paraphernalia shops, and online. These are mind-altering chemicals consisting of hundreds of elements that aim to simulate the same effect of true and legitimate marijuana.
They're typically sprayed on dry plants, which are then smoked. They can also be sold as liquids for vaporizing. The effects are unpredictable and life-threatening. These chemicals are also called cannabinoids because of their similarities to the marijuana plant.