Local EMS companies on high alert for deadly batch of synthetic marijuana


Local EMS companies in Central Pennsylvania are on alert after a deadly batch of synthetic marijuana, or k2, caused 56 overdoses in Illinois, killing two people.

“It’s not real marijuana, it’s just a bunch of chemicals and it can do really bad things to you," Rob Walker with Susquehanna Valley EMS said.

The paramedic puts its plain and simple, synthetic marijuana is no good.

In fact, the batch that killed two people and sent dozens to the hospital in Illinois was laced with what officials think was something similar to rat poison, causing severe bleeding in different parts of the body.

“You wouldn’t go and pull raid out from under your sink and snort that, but that’s the stuff that people are spreading on this. They’re putting brake cleaner, they’re putting automotive chemicals, all kinds of stuff on the synthetic marijuana.”

Synthetic marijuana overdoses can have many different effects including losing consciousness, seizures, respiratory distress and even causing your heart to race.

“Each patient acts different so sometimes it’s kind of hard to determine exactly which one we’re truly dealing with," Candy Blanchflower with Susquehanna Valley EMS said.

“We don’t have a drug that can reverse this like narcan can for an opioid overdose," Walker said.

Lancaster EMS says in the span of just three days in 2017, they had more than 100 calls for people overdosing on synthetic marijuana.

“We were seeing the patients over and over again throughout the weekend because they kept as soon as they were discharged they kept using again," Dawn Ray with Lancaster EMS said.

While this happened states away, EMS officials say their heads are on a swivel, constantly keeping up to date with what can make it here to Central PA.

“They just come down the highway and as soon as we get a bad batch we'll know that there’s a bull’s-eye right there where we will see a large group of people who have overdosed on this stuff."

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says they have no known cases of this type of synthetic marijuana overdose here in Pennsylvania.

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