Synthetic marijuana, also known as Spice, K2, or more generally a very bad idea, has been tied to two deaths and 56 cases of severe bleeding across Chicago and greater Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH):
All cases have required hospitalization for symptoms such as coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody nose, and/or bleeding gums. Nine of these cases have tested positive for brodifacoum, a lethal anticoagulant often used as a rodenticide, or rat poison.
Officials warn it’s likely there will be more cases, and potentially more deaths. Synthetic cannabinoids, the “fake weed” product, are made from “mind-altering chemicals that are sprayed on to dried plant material.” They are commonly sold as liquids to be used in e-cigarettes or as herbs to be smoked, semi-similar in appearance to marijuana. According to Men’s Health:
Part of what makes synthetic cannabis so dangerous is that there’s often no way to tell what chemicals are in the drug. According to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, there are now more than 150 different types of synthetic marijuana compounds now on the market, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a statement saying there are “no standards for making, packaging, or selling synthetic cannabinoid chemicals. That means that two packets of a brand-named product may have completely different chemicals… and may also be contaminated with other drugs or toxic chemicals.