Chicago, IL – Across Chicago and areas in central Illinois, there have been a total of 56 cases of severe bleeding, including two deaths that are related to synthetic cannabinoids, other known as spice, K2 or fake weed.
According to a statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday, April 1, 2018, nine of the cases tested positive for brodifacoum, which is a chemical used as rat poison. All cases were hospitalized due to symptoms including bleeding gums, coughing up blood, severe nose bleeding, blood in the urine, among other symptoms.
There remain several questions about the critical cases as officials are unaware of what exactly caused the drug contamination. Investigators and toxicologists continue to evaluate. “This is the first time we’ve seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area,” Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Monday. “We’re working with numerous different partners across the city and state as we investigate this outbreak.”
The department continues to work with local health departments, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other partners, to attempt to detect other common products. “We continue to see the number of cases rise,” Dr. Nirav Shah states. “Without more information, IDPH does not know how much-contaminated product is circulating or where. We strongly urge everyone not to use synthetic cannabinoids.”
Synthetic cannabinoids are sold in gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty shops, convenience stores and even online. Health officials advise that any individual who experiences a reaction to synthetic cannabinoids should call 911 or be taken to the emergency department immediately.
Three suspects were arrested Sunday, April 1, 2018
Three people were arrested in Chicago for selling brodifacoum at the King Mini Mart on the 1300 block of South Kedzie Avenue in North Lawndale. According to the Chicago Tribune, the owner Fouad Masoud, 48, and two employees, Adil Khan Mohammed, 44, and Jamil Abdelrahman Jad Allah, 44, were charged with controlled substance distribution after officials states they found a large amount of synthetic marijuana laced with brodifacoum.
Undercover agents visited the south side convenience store and bought from two of the suspects last week. They explained that the laced synthetic marijuana came in sealed containers with names including Blue Giant and Crazy Monkey.
The three suspects were arrested on Sunday, and the store was shut down. Each of the suspects has been charged in federal court with conspiring to possess and distribute a controlled substance, punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.
“There could be additional deaths coming;”
The Department of Public Health noted that although 17 of the recent cases were related to synthetic cannabinoid products in Chicago, contaminated products could be statewide. There were also 14 confirmed cases in Peoria County, 12 in Tazewell County, five in Cook County, two in Kankakee County and one in each of the counties of DuPage, Kane, McLean and Will. Two other cases are under investigation as well.
One of the fatalities was in Chicago, with the other being in Central Illinois.
Health officials state that they have never witnessed a death in Chicago related to synthetic marijuana, Arnold explains. “There could be additional deaths coming; it is difficult to say,” she adds. “We are doing whatever we can with regards to outreach to notify anyone who may be impacted by this outbreak.”
What are Synthetic Cannabinoids?
Synthetic cannabinoids refer to a growing number of human-made mind-altering chemicals sprayed on dried, shredded plant material or vaporized to produce a high. The effects of synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable and severe or even life-threatening. Unlike natural cannabinoids, synthetic cannabinoids can also be addictive as cases of withdrawal have been reported. Withdrawal symptoms include headaches, anxiety, depression, and irritability. Synthetic cannabinoid products can be found in head smoke shops.
Last year, 102 people in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, overdosed on synthetic marijuana within three days. None of those cases was fatal.
In 2016, 33 people in Brooklyn were made ill from suspected overdoses of synthetic pot.
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.
During that time, physicians treated 456 patients total for synthetic cannabinoid intoxications.
Please educate yourself and research before buying any marijuana products. There is an increasing number of reported cases of people getting very ill after consuming synthetic cannabinoids. To find safe CBD products, please visit our Vetted CBD Companies list and read our reviews.