Published: Tue, April 03, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Two Illinois Deaths Linked to Fake Weed

Two Illinois Deaths Linked to Fake Weed

IL officials say that there have been dozens of cases of bleeding triggered by the smoking of synthetic marijuana.

The Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) issued a statement on Wednesday announcing that at least six people in northeastern Illinois had been hospitalized after using the man-made substance - also known as "fake weed", "K2" or "spice".

The 56 people have been hospitalized for symptoms that include coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody nose or bleeding gums, IDPH said.

The health department is trying to determine where the 56 people obtained the products - often found in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops and online - before they started bleeding profusely.

There's not much information about the synthetic marijuana death, and Arnold said there won't be in order to protect the victim's identity.

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"We continue to see the number of cases rise", IDPH Director Dr. Nirav Shah said in a statement. No cases have been reported in Macon County.

"There could be additional deaths coming; it is hard to say", Arnold added.

"We strongly urge everyone not to use synthetic cannabinoids", Shah says in the release.

The state confirmed its first death from synthetic marijuana over the weekend. None of those cases was fatal.

The number of acute poisonings from synthetic cannabinoids rose sharply between 2010 and 2015, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016.

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Synthetic cannabinoids are sprayed on to dried plant material and then either smoked or vaped.

While the substances are often marketed as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana, US officials say that they "affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana", and "their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more unsafe or even life-threatening". "Despite the perception that synthetic cannabinoids are a safe alternative to marijuana, they can cause very severe illness".

People who smoke synthetic cannabinoids can have rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion and hallucinations, according to the CDC.

"Don't use synthetic cannabinoids", Davis said. "Why they're happening? We're still uncertain", he said. Nine have tested positive for brodifacoum, a lethal anticoagulant often used as rat poison.

This photo provided Friday, Aug. 7, 2015 by New York Police Department shows packets of synthetic marijuana seized after a search warrant was served at a newsstand in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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