MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Health professionals previously warned people about the dangers of synthetic marijuana, also known as “Spice” or “K2.” Now, Emergency rooms and law enforcement in several states across the country have been seeing a spike in synthetic marijuana overdoses.
This time, doctors say since early spring of this year, they’ve seen people who smoke this drug experience severe bleeding from their eyes and ears.
Experts say it’s made of plant material, then coated in hundreds of manufactured chemicals. They say the cause of bleeding is likely due to a change in the formula. However, without knowing the exact ingredients in the products, researchers say it’s difficult to pinpoint specifics. It comes in small packets usually labeled as “incense” and says it’s “not for human consumption.”
“It acts on the same receptors, the cannabinoid receptors that THC works on. But the main difference is its much, much more powerful, maybe 50 to 75 maybe 100 times more powerful than the regular THC. Again, it kind of depends on what compounds end up being in it, but the main things that you tend to see are hallucinations, psychosis, hypertension. A lot of times the initial symptoms would be something more along the lines of vomiting, but it can get as bad as coma and again even death,” said Dr. Ron Reynolds with Beach Family and Urgent Care.
The FDA even released a warning back in July saying the product may be contaminated with a substance commonly used in rat poison.
Authorities say the substance has been around since the early 2000s. They also say the drug designed to mimic marijuana is always evolving and is not regulated. Often times, those who smoke the drug have no idea what they’re getting. Experts say the product is gradually being laced with stronger drugs like fentanyl. Drug investigators say it’s cheap and that’s what attracts people to smoke it. Plus, it’s harder to detect in standard drug tests. Horry County Police say the drug is illegal in South Carolina, and parents need to talk with their children about the dangers of synthetic marijuana.
“You can find it sometimes online, so people must be vigilant…parents vigilant where their children are going online for those types of things. We haven’t had any complaints of any smoke shops in our area that are selling it, because we do check out those complaints, but a lot of times you can find it online,” said Lt. Jamie DeBari with HCPD.
Horry County Police said synthetic marijuana was a problem several years ago, and will continue to monitor the situation in our area.