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102 Synthetic Marijuana Overdoses in 3 Days in 1 Pennsylvania County

Doctors warn about the dangers of synthetic marijuana.

LANCASTER COUNTY — One hundred and two people in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, overdosed on synthetic marijuana in three days, according to C. Robert May, director of Lancaster Emergency Medical Services. None of the overdoses were fatal.

“Heroin is normally the issue but in the last week there’s been an overdose of synthetic marijuana,” also known as K2, May told CNN. “The assumption is that heroin is not readily available, so people are turning to K2.”

The treatment of the overdose patients took place between the morning of July 7 through the morning of July 10. More overdoses followed — by the following Friday, July 14, a total of 158 overdose patients were involved in emergency response calls.

According to May, some calls involve two to four patients at once, with a few patients repeating in a span of a few hours.

“This past weekend we responded to one patient nine times in 24 hours,” May said.

In the past six months in Lancaster County, heroin overdoses were averaging eight a day, May said. Over the last week, emergency services responded to 25 synthetic marijuana overdoses a day — about one an hour — in public bathrooms, parking lots, residential homes, on the street and in the parks.

“It’s all over the place,” May said.

Synthetic marijuana, also known as fake weed, K2 or spice, is a mixture of herbs, spices or shredded plant material laced with chemicals similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Because the drug is a mixture, the effects it can have on a person vary. Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said it can often lead to violent behavior.

“I have heard numerous stories from doctors, medics and police officers who encountered a very violent and erratic person under the influence of synthetic marijuana,” he said.

May added that the lack of quality control of chemicals in the drug generates “really sick patients” who are often found unconscious and must be sent to intensive care, while others “are combative and put us at risk,” said May.

He also described the financial burden on the Lancaster Emergency Medical Services, a non-profit, as well as the collateral impact.

“It’s overwhelming our resources and we have a very busy system to begin with. The high numbers of overdoses delay response times to other emergencies,” May said.

Many overdose patients of the past week were in their 20s, said May, ranging in age from mid-teens up to early 30s. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, use of synthetic marijuana is particularly popular among teens and young adults seeking a cheap alternative to marijuana or a new experience with a hallucinogenic drug.

K2 has led to mass overdoses before, including in Brooklyn in 2016 when 33 people were sent to the hospital after suspected overdoses on synthetic weed.

“Teens who use synthetic cannabinoids, really, it’s playing a game of Russian roulette,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City told CNN in March. “Typically they become very aggressive and violent in the ER and often require chemical (sedation) if not physical restraint.”

30 comments

  • David Bange

    NARCAN IS NOT the solution! It is an enabler! It has gotten to the point that people do not fear overdosing, because they are depending on NARCAN to get to them in time. In fact some drug dealers are now also selling NARCAN along with their Heroin.

    Many who have been treated with NARCAN, have become repeat “rescuees”. Many “Having been saved” 4 to more than 10 times. NARCAN in NOT the answer.

  • John Stevenson

    It’s pretty bad reporting to call it “marijuana” when it’s just a blend of different, dangerous stuff. It has nothing to do with marijuana, so why call it that? No one is going around saying “TEEN OVERDOSES ON SYNTHETIC POWDERED SUGAR!!”.

    Either there is an agenda against legal weed here, or it’s just plain bad reporting. Pick one, or both.

    • Charles Augustus Jobst III

      THC is the chemical in marijuana. This stuff is sprayed with THC. That’s the only reason why. That and because pot has been declared a safe drug.

  • Yupidodrugs

    Haha my boyfriend and I have been smoking that for 5 years… and nothing happened to use. Even smoked it while I was pregnant. And my daughter came out just fine. People that overdose doesn’t know when to quit and smokes to much of it. If you overdose on this.. then you are one stupid person lol! πŸ˜‚

  • Ben James Yokel

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA”. There is synthetic THC which is a legal prescription drug called “Marinol” available at your local drug store, used for reducing or eliminating nausea in cancer patients although regular cannabis is said to be more effective.

    This totally inaccurate designation β€œsynthetic marijuana” regarding “K2” or “Spice” and the like is the product of prohibitionist deliberately mis associating cannabis with a non related substance.

    The products featured is this article contain random plant material sprayed with intoxicating toxic chemicals designed to fly under legal drug testing radar. They are not, and never have been cannabis. These synthetic smokable intoxicants are more fruit of the poison tree of cannabis prohibition!

    Legalize cannabis, and all this other toxic synthetic crud will go away in favor of pure nontoxic cannabis, regulated and taxed.8

  • Sasquatch

    How can you really feel bad for these people ? I was raised knowing the difference between right and wrong and not to use illegal drugs and it wasn’t hard maintaining that in my life so you use drugs knowing the consequences just do me the courtesy and don’t die on my front lawn I won’t feel sorry for you…….

    • Yupidodrugs

      πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»πŸ–•πŸ»I feel bad for you. God bless you fatty!πŸ™πŸ»

  • Delia DeLyon

    “Synthetic marijuana” is a bogus term. It’s as if someone decided to make round red balls of rat poison and the media started calling them “synthetic apples”; well, obviously something needs to be done about this dangerous apple problem, look at how deadly apples are! … Quick, everybody engage in apple panic! No, it’s a completely different and unrelated thing.

    Except, as others have noted, that in places where real cannabis is legal, and regulated, you don’t see nearly as much of this problem. And real, actual marijuana doesn’t cause deaths or anything like these issues- in fact, it’s vastly safer than alcohol.

    Legalization of marijuana- which has been safely used by humans for 10,000 years or more- works and has been extremely successful in every state it has been implemented in. People in other states who talk about what a nightmare, for instance, states like Colorado are now, never seem to be able to explain why more and more citizens are flocking there AND the voters in those states have only increased their support for legalization since it passed.

    • Loreeene Y Harrisn

      Apparently U have NEVER dealt with somebody who has become SsssOoooo paranoid smoking marijuana that they refuse to eat or drink Anything that has been opened in their OWN refrigerator from smoking marijuana!!!! I HAVE & I Can’t Stand it!!!!!!!! Also how they forget to turn the stove off or lock the doors, or forget where they placed their keys 2 minutes after they Just had them!!!!!!!! Marijuana is loaded with tar, which leads to pneumonia & bronchitis also other lung problems!!!!!!

    • Yupidodrugs

      You will die first… cause you are to busy shoveling dounts down your throat! You are one of those guys that sit on there computer every day watching child porn in your underwear. Just get a blow up doll pervert?

  • RJELQ

    Pa is a depressing state. People love to get high it seems. But this synthetic stuff isnt the answer. What happened to having a few beers?

  • Luann gray

    Make canibis legal you won’t have all these overdoses then the West Coast has less oversoses

  • Mad Dog

    Just legalize the real stuff already. Stop the fearmongering about it. Weed is harmless compared to this stuff. You’ll never stop kids from drinking and smoking. Legalize it, tax it, regulate it, and leave it up to the parents to do their jobs.

    • you can always serve as a bad example

      Sounds like your parents did a great job raising you – wanting to introduce means to have impaired drivers on the road. Brilliant. How’s the weather at Camp Bisco today?

      • Lloyd Schmucatelli

        Smoking a joint or drinking a beer is way different than driving intoxicated.

        Wow. I didn’t realize there were people as dumb as you out there!

        Smoke a joint and stay on the couch. Only an idiot gets behind the wheel when intoxicated.

        I’ve been friggin WASTED in the past but always had to wherewithal to plan ahead so to not drive a friggin car and injure others!

  • B

    Why waste emergency services on people knowingly inflicting this upon themselves? You rescued a man 9 times in one day. It’s time to stop responding and let what happens happen. Users will die out and demand will go down and without demand sellers will wither away.

  • Ben James Yokel

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA”. There is synthetic THC which is a legal prescription drug called “Marinol” available at your local drug store, used for reducing or eliminating nausea in cancer patients although regular cannabis is said to be more effective.

    This totally inaccurate designation β€œsynthetic marijuana” regarding “K2” or “Spice” and the like is the product of prohibitionist deliberately mis associating cannabis with a non related substance.

    The products featured is this article contain random plant material sprayed with intoxicating toxic chemicals designed to fly under legal drug testing radar. They are not, and never have been cannabis. These synthetic smokable intoxicants are more fruit of the poison tree of cannabis prohibition!

    Legalize cannabis, and all this other toxic synthetic crud will go away in favor of pure nontoxic cannabis, regulated and taxed.

    • you can always serve as a bad example

      Yeah, I look forward to having more impaired drivers on the highways. It is legal, just not here in PA. Move if you want it that bad.

  • Thin the herd

    People think they can’t OD on the Mary Jane so they switch from heroin to this artificial crap. Fools.

Comments are closed.