New York public health officials have seen of a recent increase in the use of a synthetic marijuana that has sent more than 160 patients to the hospital since April 8. The dangerous drug, identified by the street names, such as “spice” and “K2” is abused by mainly teens and young adults and is known to be marketed as incense, herbal mixtures or potpourri in order to mask its true purpose.
Calls to New York State poison control centers due to the use of synthetic cannabinoids increased dramatically in the last two weeks. Users of the synthetic mixtures typically experience symptoms that include agitation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, tremor, seizures, hallucinations, paranoia and violent behavior. These effects can be similar to those of phencyclidine, or PCP.
Synthetic cannabinoids are marketed as legal and typically consist of plant material coated by chemicals which are supposed to mimic THC, the active chemical compound in marijuana. The products often carry a "not for human consumption" label in order to disguise the true purpose of the substance. These drugs are often referred to by different names, including: Spice, K2, Blonde, Summit, Standard, Blaze, Red Dawn X, Citron, Green Giant, Smacked, Wicked X, AK-47, synthetic marijuana, or legal marijuana. Additional names from some recent reported cases include: Geeked Up, Ninja, Caution, Red Giant or Keisha Kole.
In August 2012, the New York State Department of Health, at the Governor’s urging, issued regulations banning the sale and possession of dozens of substances used to make synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts. The regulations also allowed an owner of an establishment and/or an employee selling synthetic drugs to be charged with possession of an illicit substance, which is punishable with a fine up to $500, or 15 days in jail, or a civil penalty of up to $2,000 per violation. The Department of Health continues to partner with the New York State Police and other law enforcement agencies to crack down on the use of these synthetic drugs as they evolve.
If you are aware of locations where this product is being sold or distributed, please call 1-888-99-SALTS (1-888-997-2587).
New York State Poison Control Centers has seen an increase in use of synthetic marijuana, with severe side effects including death, acute renal failure, as well as other significant negative effects to the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. which have been linked to use of these products.
The products are sold as incense, herbal mixtures or potpourri, online and in convenience or smoke shops, and often carry a "not for human consumption" label in order to disguise the true purpose of the substance. Various formulations are being sold under names such as: K2, Spice, Blonde, Summit, Standard, Blaze, Red Dawn X, and Citron.
The most common route of administration of these synthetic cannabis is by smoking using a pipe, a water pipe, or rolling the drug-spiked plant material in cigarette papers. Users report highs that last between 30 minutes and two hours, and at times describe out-of-body experiences.
Due to the imminent threat to the public safety, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) used its emergency powers to render these substances illegal for sale by making them Schedule I controlled substances. Should you become aware of retailers selling these products, you may report it to the DEA by calling 877-883-5789.
More information on these products may be found on the DEA website at:
as well as at the American Association of Poison Control Centers at: