The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that the number of medical cases associated with synthetic marijuana poisoning between January and May 2015 increased by more than 200 percent compared with the number recorded for the same period last year.

The data, which were reported in the June 12 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), were based on reports from poison control hotlines.

The biggest jump was recorded in April earlier this year, when the number of poisoning incidents related to use of synthetic drug increased to more than 330 percent compared to January.

The number of related fatalities for the period spanning January to May is three times the number for such deaths for the same period last year. Poison handle centers reported 15 fatalities associated with the use of synthetic cannabinoid from January to May this year.

Included in the fatalities is a U.S. soldier who returned from Liberia and self-monitored for Ebola but eventually succumbed because of intoxication to synthetic marijuana most commonly known as "Spice."

CDC also reported that related calls received by U.S. poison centers have increased by 229 percent January and May this year compared with the same period in 2014.

Around 80 percent of the calls pertain to help needed for males whose average age was about 26 years old. Over 11 percent of those who called were of reactions that could be potentially fatal, disabling or disfiguring.

The illegal drug, which also goes by the name Black Mamba, K2 and Crazy Clown, is known to give incredibly powerful high compared with marijuana. The effect can also last for hours.

Use however is associated with unwanted health consequences. Commonly reported side effects of the drug were agitation, which was reported in 35.3 percent of the calls, tachycardia, or faster than normal heart rate (29 percent), drowsiness or lethargy (26.3 percent), vomiting (16.4 percent) and confusion which was reported in 4.2 percent of the calls.

Spice contains five active chemical that are classified as Schedule I controlled substances by the U.S Drug Enforcement Agency. CDC researchers noted the implications of the increased use of the lab produced marijuana.

"The increasing number of synthetic cannabinoid variants available, higher toxicity of new variants, and the potentially increased use as indicated by calls to poison centers might suggest that synthetic cannabinoids pose an emerging public health threat," the report reads.

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