More Illness From Synthetic pot Likely
More Illness From Synthetic pot Likely

More Illness From Synthetic pot Likely

For those who like their mind-altering herbs sprayed with dangerous chemicals and sold to them in gas stations, there’s always synthetic cannabis. The designer drug, branded as ”herbal incense” or a “herbal smoking blend,” is often sold in convenience stores and gas stations — and it’s nothing like cannabis. Nicknamed ”synthetic marijuana” because of its origins as a cheap, legal alternative to marijuana, a spat of new research has shown synthetic cannabis (also known as “K2” or “Spice”) can prompt psychosis, both short and long-term. Worse? It’s getting more dangerous, and it’s not going anywhere.

Dr. Andrew Monte, the paper’s lead author and an assistant professor in emergency medicine and medical toxicology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said 263 people visited area emergency rooms, mostly young men.

Symptoms included altered mental status, irregular heart beat and seizures. “The care of most patients was managed in the emergency department, but seven patients required admission to intensive care units,” authors wrote.

The outbreak then ended abruptly. Only 10 cases were reported at the same hospitals from Sept. 13 to Oct. 25.

“These substances are not benign,” Monte said in a prepared statement. “You can buy designer drugs of abuse at convenience stores and on the Internet. People may not realize how dangerous these drugs can be — up to 1,000 times stronger binding to cannabis receptors when compared to traditional marijuana.”

Hospital staff members and police recovered several brands of the products from the patients and studied them using mass spectrophotometry. The synthetic cannabinoid they found was a molecule called ADB-PINACA, which cannot yet be detected in blood or urine, authors wrote.
“Outbreaks like this are likely to keep happening,” Monte said. “We need better testing to identify these subsatnces, open communication with public health officials when outbreaks occur, and we need to make sure more physicians ask patients the right questions about their drug use.”

About the University of Colorado School of Medicine

Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Degrees offered by the CU Denver School of Medicine include doctor of medicine, doctor of physical therapy, and masters of physician assistant studies. The School is located on the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system. For additional news and information, please visit the CU Denver newsroom online.

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