Colorado state officials say synthetic marijuana may be the cause of three deaths earlier this month. Since then, the Colorado Department of Public Health has begun investigating an outbreak of hospital illnesses that may be tied to this dangerous substance.
Investigation shows that approximately 75 people who reported smoking a form of synthetic marijuana may have been seen at hospitals in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs since August. This figure is rather baffling considering recreational marijuana is, in fact, legal in the state of Colorado.
Synthetic marijuana might also be referred to as K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Mr. Smiley and Blaze. According to the National Institute On Drug Abuse, synthetic cannabinoids are a blend of plant and herbal materials that have been sprayed with chemicals, producing an extra toxicity.
Smoking synthetic marijuana gives euphoric and psychoactive effects similar to that of real marijuana. However, there are additional side effects that may be particularly dangerous; it can leave patients catatonic and listless. Very little is known about synthetic marijuana or how to treat a bad reaction or overdose.
The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that the number of calls to poison centers relating to synthetic drugs increased from about 3,200 in 2010 to more than 13,000 in 2011. Synthetic drugs, sometimes referred to as designer drugs, are becoming a large problem in the United States and is often a moving target for authorities.