102 people overdosed on synthetic weed—within 3 days—and within 1 county in Pennsylvania.
The shocking figures reiterate the dangers of fake marijuana, also known as K2.
Lancaster County’s emergency medical services quickly became overburdened by the 911 calls.
“Heroin is normally the issue but in the last week there’s been an overdose of synthetic marijuana, said C. Robert May from the Lancaster Emergency Medical Services, “The assumption is that heroin is not readily available, so people are turning to K2.”
From July 7 to July 10, a total of 102 patients were treated, and by next Friday, nearly 160 people were tended to.
— Pennsylvania DOH (@PAHealthDept) July 12, 2017
In some instances, multiple people requested aid at the same time and place, while others repeatedly called 911 in a single day.
“This past weekend we responded to one patient nine times in 24 hours,” said May.
While heroin proved to be a serious problem for Lancaster County over the past few months—with an average of eight reported overdoses a day—the synthetic marijuana was generating about 25 daily overdoses.
Emergency services have responded to calls at public bathroom, homes, parking lots, public parks, and even street corners.
“It’s all over the place,” added May.
K2 is made out of a mixture of spices and plant particles laced with THC.
Different brands are made of unique mixtures, amounts, and combinations, which causes varied and often unpredictable psychoactive effects.
“I have heard numerous stories from doctors, medics, and police officers who encountered a very violent and erratic person under the influence of synthetic marijuana,” said Craig Stedman, a Lancaster County District Attorney.
Due to low quality products, the K2 often leaves users “really sick” and in some cases “combative and put us at risk,” says May.
Indeed, local Lancaster hospital resources have been consumed by K2 overdose calls, “It’s overwhelming…and we have a very busy system to begin with,” said May, “The high numbers of overdoses delay response times to other emergencies.”‘
A good portion of K2 victims reported over the 3 day period were in their 20s, though others were teenagers and some as old as their early 30s.
Synthetic marijuana has been described as “Russian roulette” by Dr. Robert Glatter of the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, “Typically they become very aggressive and violent in the ER and often require chemical (sedation) if not physical restraint.”