IDPH: Peoria man dead, rat poison chemical found in synthetic marijuana

Posted April 04, 2018

So far, there have been 56 cases of severe bleeding found in synthetic cannabinoid users.and two have died. Health officials remain with little clues as to what caused the drug contamination, although investigators are resuming their investigation. Federal officers made undercover purchases of the illegal substances, marketed as "Matrix", "Blue Giant" and "Crazy Monkey", the AP reported.

Three Chicago convenience store clerks were charged on Monday for allegedly selling synthetic drugs laced with rat poison, according to police.

The first known death in an outbreak of severe bleeding among users of synthetic marijuana in IL was reported on the weekend by state health officials. Of the reported cases in IL, the drug has caused users to cough up blood, observe blood in their urine, get nosebleeds, and experience a number of other symptoms, like bleeding from their eyes and ears. At least 56 people were hospitalized and identified as having symptoms related to the fake marijuana.

Synthetic cannabinoids are sold in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores and even online.

"We continue to see the number of cases rise", Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the state's Department of Public Health, said in the statement.

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The fake weed problem in IL only worsens.

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

"This is the first time we've seen an outbreak of this magnitude in the area", she was quoted by the Fox affiliate as saying. 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.

'Because these products are not regulated, it's hard to know the chemical make-up, source and distribution'.

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The man-made "alternative to marijuana" is a chemical sprayed on dried plant material, then smoked or sold as liquid to be vaporized on e-cigarettes or other devices.

"The health effects from using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable, harmful, and deadly", IDPH said in a release. These chemicals are also called cannabinoids due to their similarities to the marijuana plant.

Cara Smith, spokeswoman for the Cook County Sheriff's Office told the Tribune, "If you use synthetic drugs, you're playing Russian roulette with your life".

"They include things like seizures, heart attack, kidney failure", said Lank, who was not involved in treating the recent synthetic cannabinoid cases.

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