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Death Caused By Fake Marijuana Laced With Rat Poison

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

March 13, 2019

The CDC has issued an outbreak alert for synthetic cannabinoids, also referred to as synthetic marijuana or “fake weed.” Following use of synthetic cannabinoids, a rising number of individuals have experienced severe and uncontrollable bleeding, at times to the point of death. This outbreak has been attributed to synthetic marijuana being laced with rat poison. Knowing the dangers can help keep you or a loved one safe.

The CDC reports that 94 individuals have sought help in emergency departments for this condition since early March, with two deaths already confirmed. Experts fear the death toll will continue to rise. Multiple brands of synthetic weed have been connected to this outbreak.

It’s reported that individuals have bled from their eyes, ears, gums, and nose. Coughing up blood, passing blood in urine, and bleeding heavily from menstruation or from an injury have also been causes for hospitalization.

So far, reports of this illness have surfaced in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin, however, other states have already begun cautioning residents of this risk.

What We Know About Fake Marijuana Laced With Rat Poison

The chemical suspect in these illnesses is brodifacoum, a rat poison which is toxic to humans. In Illinois alone, 18 cases have already tested positive for this substance. Three individuals have been arrested in Chicago on charges of selling synthetic marijuana laced with rat poison.

Brodifacoum is an anticoagulant rodenticide, meaning it impairs the ability of the blood to coagulate or clot, increasing the risk of heavy bleeding. Brodifacoum is off-white and odorless, making it easily disguised in fake weed.

Called Spice or K2, among other names, synthetic cannabinoids, or “syncanns,” are man-made substances within mind-altering properties. The active chemical may be smoked as a liquid but is most commonly sprayed on shredded plant material so that it resembles marijuana. These products have frequently been pushed as “safer” alternatives to marijuana which do not show up on routine drug tests.

The truth is, when a person purchases one of these substances, there’s no way to tell what chemicals it contains, a fact which has been made devastatingly evident by this recent rash of hospitalizations.

If a symptomatic individual seeks help immediately, this condition may be treated. However, the CDC has expressed concern that hospitals may have a limited supply of vitamin K, the antidote.

Further, these treatments can become very expensive. The CDC notes that “Cost of outpatient oral vitamin K treatment can be $8,000.00 for 2 weeks treatment, and expected treatment duration in months.”

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Additional Dangers Of Synthetic Cannabinoids

This isn’t the only danger linked to synthetic cannabinoid abuse. While users may be striving for a relaxed state or elevated mood, these substances can greatly disrupt a person’s mental and emotional functioning. The fake weed can alter a person’s perception, causing erratic and unpredictable behaviors which could endanger themselves or those around them.

Specifically, synthetic cannabinoids have been known to cause:

  • aggressive behavior
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • delusional thinking
  • detachment from reality
  • hallucinations
  • paranoia
  • psychosis
  • random acts of violence
  • suicidal thoughts

In addition to these effects, these substances can cause physical health problems, including:

  • addiction
  • convulsions
  • heart attack
  • kidney injury
  • raised blood pressure
  • rapid heart rate
  • reduced blood supply to the heart
  • seizures
  • stroke
  • toxicity to the heart
  • vomiting

Synthetic cannabinoids can cause overdose and death.

Further, according to U.S. News & World Report, synthetic marijuana can be made from roughly 100 different chemical compounds. This uncertainty could expose drug abusers to even more dangerous toxins.

Forbes reports that “highly potent opioid relatives of fentanyl” and benzodiazepines have been found laced into synthetic cannabinoids. These substances are highly addictive and hold a high potential for overdose, especially when combined with another drug.

Protect Your Life – Get Help Today

Fake weed can easily cause bodily harm, and in certain cases, death. If you or a loved one are experimenting with marijuana, or feel that addiction to it has already developed, don’t wait.

CNN - Life-threatening bleeding linked to synthetic cannabinoids, CDC warns

Forbes - Why Synthetic Marijuana Is More Dangerous Than Ever

WBALTV11 - Officials warn synthetic marijuana making people bleed, laced with rat poison

Yahoo! - Cases of fake weed causing severe bleeding have now spread to multiple states

U.S. News - The Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana

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