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Synthetic marijuana leads to national outbreak

Staff writer ▼ | May 11, 2015
Synthetic marijuana - in fact a dangerous chemical compounds called cannabimimetics - caused 2,714 reports to poison centres in the U.S., according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).
Synthetic marijuana
Drugs   The American Association of Poison Control Centers warns
AAPCC warns that word "marijuana" has nothing to do with old marijuana from decades ago, it is about substances that cause severe agitation and anxiety; fast, racing heartbeat and higher blood pressure; nausea and vomiting; muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors; intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes; and suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions.

In 2015, through May 6, poison centers received reports of 2,714 exposures to synthetic marijuana. The harmful effects from these products were first reported in the U.S. in 2009. Since then, the drugs have spread throughout the country. Poison centers received 2,668 calls about exposures to these drugs in 2013 and 3,680 exposures in 2014.

AAPCC warns that 55 poison centers around the country are ready to help and they should be called immediately if somebody stops breathing, collapses, or has a seizure after taking "synthetic marijuana".

"This is the worst outbreak of drug abuse that I've lived through," said Dr. Steven Marcus, executive director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System at the New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers University.

"It's almost as if someone had made a witches' brew of these cannabinoids. This is not just powerful marijuana. This is really dangerous stuff that has effects that can be life-threatening."

A potential common link in last month's spike is a compound called MAB-CHMINACA, Marcus told The Associated Press in an interview. The compound was found during tests of synthetic marijuana seized by police in several states where people became ill, he said.

Synthetic marijuana usually is non-marijuana plant material sprayed with cannabinoids.