Synthetic cannabis has caused a lot of turmoil in the State of Illinois in the past couple of years. More than 150 cases of synthetic cannabinoids making people sick was reported statewide in the spring of 2018. Among the people who were hospitalized, there were 4 fatalities recorded.
Synthetic marijuana is a man-made opioid that consists of mixed-chemicals that could cause physical and mental health issues. Synthetic cannabis, also referred to as K-2 and spice, could cause seizures, heart attacks and kidney failure according to Dr. Patrick Lank, who is an Emergency Physician and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Northwest University of Feinberg School of Medicine in Illinois.
According to the CDC, synthetic marijuana may also cause rapid heart rate and vomiting as well as mental health issues such as confusion and hallucinations. In Illinois, most cases being in Chicago, people affected by the opioid had severe bleeding cases. These cases include bleeding of the nose, coughing up blood, blood in the urine and bleeding of the gum. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 9 people tested positive for brodifacoum, also referred to as rat poison. State officials tried to trace where the products were obtained and how contamination could have occurred. They found that lethal anticoagulant was found in the synthetic opioid which is found in rat poison.
Synthetic cannabis is readily available and easily obtained by consumers. There are over 600 brand names that synthetic cannabis is sold under. Some include Scooby Snax, Black Mamba and Mojo. They are sold in convenient stores, gas stations and even online websites and shops such as Amazon. State officials had sent out a warning urging consumers to call 911 immediately if a reaction to the drug occurs. “This is the first time we’ve seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area," said Melaney Arnold, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Public Health.
People believe synthetic marijuana is a substitute for natural marijuana. The effects of synthetic marijuana doesn’t mimic the effects of the natural plant. Some of the effects of opioid include aggression, nausea and vomiting, increase in energy and the feeling of being in a dream state. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, a non profit organization based in New York, about 10,000 emergency calls were made in 2015 reporting harmful reactions to the opioid. In truth, synthetic marijuana is a public health disaster and making the natural cannabis flower legal would be much safer for the population. The decision making synthetic marijuana legal while the natural plant remains illegal is not a decision made for the publics best interest and it’s a shame that people are harmed or killed by the synthetic opioid before changes can occur.
According to Illinois new state law, synthetic marijuana is now illegal unless it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Sen. Jacqueline Collins sponsored the Senate Bill 2341 last year. According to Collins, “(The Law) is a good first step in trying to eradicate this deadly drug and stop it from being so cheap and easily accessible." This law became effective on Jan. 1, 2019.
Carfentanil is another form of synthetic cannabis found in Ontario, Canada. It is not for human use and is somewhere in the range of 100 times more toxic than fentanyl and 10,000 times more toxic than morphine. Public Health officials in Ottawa warn that carfentanil can be deadly, even in extremely tiny amounts.
It is more important than ever to know the source of your cannabis if you are a patient or use socially.