Synthetic Weed Is Putting New Yorkers in the Hospital Again

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Synthetic marijuana, sold in colorful packages with names like Cloud Nine, Maui Wowie and Mr. Nice Guy, sits behind the glass counter at a Kwik Stop in Hollywood, Florida. Police are beginning to crack down on synthetic drugs.
Photo: Susannah Bryan/Sun Sentinel/MCT

What’s that strange smell in the suddenly warm air? It might just be synthetic marijuana. Once again, the authorities have issued a warning against smoking the stuff — also known as “spice” or “K2” — which has put 120 people in New York City hospitals since the beginning of April (another 40 users were hospitalized throughout New York state). That’s a major spike from earlier this year, when the city’s emergency rooms were only treating a combined daily average of two or three people suffering from the drug’s un-chill effects, which include anxiety, rapid heart rate, vomiting, hallucinations, and seizures.

Despite what the package might say, there’s no way of knowing exactly what synthetic marijuana contains. The consequences of using synthetic marijuana are unpredictable and I urge people not to use these dangerous and illegal drugs,” said Health Commissioner Mary Bassett. While the chemical-laden imitation weed has been banned since 2012, it can still be found in some of New York’s more unscrupulous bodegas.