DHS: Fake Weed Contains Rat Poison and can Cause Uncontrolled Bleeding and Death
USA – August 8, 2018
Several states, including Illinois, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have reported cases of synthetic marijuana being laced with rat poison, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The forensic technical director from the Milwaukee county medical examiner’s office Sara Schrieber says the chemical is called brodificaum, which is used to kill animals.
“It’s in a couple different kinds of products that you can buy commercially to control rats, mice, larger possum. If you wanted to control that, this is a chemical that would be quite effective in that kind of control,” Schrieber said.
Brodifacoum is a toxic substance that neutralizes Vitamin K, an essential nutrient for blood coagulation. Exposure to the poison can cause uncontrolled bleeding.
Synthetic marijuana goes by different names, including K2, spice, fake weed, Black Mamba, Green Giant, Bombay Blue, Genie and Zohai, the Health Department said.
Fake weed or K2 consists of a lot different mind-altering chemicals that are made and sprayed on dried, shredded plant material to be smoked or sold as liquids to be inhaled in products like e-cigarettes or other vaping devices, the health department explained.
These mind-altering chemicals are called cannabinoids, since they are similar to the chemicals found in marijuana, though they can cause serious side effects that are different from those of marijuana.
One study of a synthetic cannabinoid found that it was 85 times as potent as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana. That study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2016.
The number of deaths caused by use of fake weed is increasing, according to authorities.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is confirming the death of a 33-year-old woman July 1, linked to synthetic cannabinoids, reports a DHS statement released earlier this month. One of the primary causes of the woman's death was the ingestion of fake weed containing rat poison, the medical examiner reports. This is the first confirmed death linked to the outbreak. Overall, Wisconsin has seen 45 cases since March of this year, including 37 confirmed cases and 8 probable cases. Counties with confirmed cases include Dane, Milwaukee, Outagamie, and Rock.
Franklin police confirmed the case originated with an emergency call to them on July 1. The department said it was still investigating.
“We are continuing to work with local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Poison Control Center, and other partners to try to identify common products or sources,” said State Health Officer Karen McKeown.
The City of Milwaukee Health Department said that in April alone there were at least two confirmed cases and one probable case of an illness that can cause "severe bleeding, unexplained bruising and possible death," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Since March 7, Illinois health officials received reports of 146 cases, including three deaths, linked to an outbreak caused by synthetic cannabinoids in the Chicago area and central Illinois.
Contaminated products are possibly already being sold statewide, the Department of Public Health noted.
With one month, there also were five cases in Cook County, two in Kankakee County, 14 in Peoria County, 12 in Tazewell County and one in each of the counties of DuPage, Kane, McLean and Will. Two other cases are under investigation.
According to the Milwaukee Health Department, the synthetic products are found in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores or purchased online.
The Wisconsin Division of Public Health and MHD said health care providers should report those who have a serious reaction to synethic cannabinoids to their local health department.
Jon Meiman, chief medical officer with Wisconsin Division of Public Health, said that what sets the outbreak apart "is the association with severe bleeding."
"In the cases in Illinois and Wisconsin, it has been found they have rat poison in their blood," he said.
"What's particularly concerning about this particular poison is we don't know why it's in these drugs or how it got there," he said. "The type of bleeding it causes can be severe and does require treatment for weeks or months."
The Department of Health Services has urged people to halt use of the synthetic marijuana products.
If you or someone you know has a serious reaction to synthetic cannabinoids, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away. Even if you are not bleeding, see a doctor if you have used synthetic cannabinoids; you may be at risk for bleeding as this product can stay in your system for months, DHS reminds. Synthetic marijuana is illegal and poses unpredictable health risks.