Synthetic Marijuana Causes Mass Overdoses In Texas, Three Detained

REUTERS/Sebastien Malo

Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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The synthetic marijuana product called “spice” or “K2” has shown up in Texas in a big way, as dozens have required medical attention after smoking it.

At least 28 people have had “adverse reactions” to the synthetic drug at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless in Austin, Texas, and police have detained three individuals for suspicion of peddling the drug, the Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday.

Police say they detained the three men after watching video from a camera at a local Salvation Army, and they plan to file drug possession or distribution charges against at least two of them.

The Statesman also reports that Austin saw another rash of spice-related overdoses Wednesday, but didn’t offer a number.

“I don’t have an exact number (of patients) but I’m sure our department is going to get something out like dozens and dozens (of cases) between the last 48 hours,” EMS commander Mark Karonika told the Statesman.

EMS commander Mike Benavides told the Statesman it’s like they are “running it like a mass casualty incident right now.”

This comes fresh on the heels of 18 overdoses reported from the infamous Skid Row section of Los Angeles, which happened on August 22.

Brooklyn, New York also saw a rash of spice-related overdoses, when 33 people overdosed on the synthetic drug in July.

Nor is this a new problem. In 2015, ABC News reported more than 300 overdoses in a two week span in Mississippi and Arkansas, and reports on 50 overdoses in 11 days in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.

Spice, or K2, is dried plant matter that is sprayed with any number of a range of chemicals, and the potency can vary greatly.

The Food and Drug Administration has banned spice, but manufacturers of the drug skirt the law by putting different chemicals on it.

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