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Monday, January 27, 2014

Synthetic Marijuana Emergency Room Cases Surge

Despite measures taken in the United States to curb synthetic marijuana use, emergency rooms continue to report cases of people requiring aid. In fact, Denver, Colorado had a rise in ER visits related to synthetic marijuana in the months leading up to the legalization of traditional marijuana, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In less than a month, emergency rooms in the Denver area saw 263 patients with symptoms tied to synthetic marijuana. Seven of those patients needed to be admitted to intensive care units.

Last week's New England Journal of Medicine featured a letter by Dr. Andrew A. Monte of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He wrote that, “Although the effects of exposures to first-generation synthetic cannabinoids are largely benign, newer products have been associated with seizures, ischemic stroke and cardiac toxicity, possibly due to potency.”

Synthetic marijuana is made from a combination of dried herbs with spices sprayed with harmful chemicals. When smoked, products that go by the names K2, Spice and Black Mamba induce a marijuana-like high, the article points out.

Short-term effects include:
  • Loss of Control
  • Lack of Pain Response
  • Increased Agitation
  • Pale Skin
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Profuse Sweating
  • Uncontrolled Body Movements
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Heart Palpitations
“These substances are not benign,” Monte said. “You can buy designer drugs of abuse at convenience stores and on the Internet. People may not realize how dangerous these drugs can be — up to 1,000 times stronger binding to cannabis receptors when compared to traditional marijuana.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are investigating whether three deaths and another 75 hospitalizations were the result of synthetic marijuana use.
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