33 Sickened in NYC Mass Overdose

Authorities issue fresh warning on synthetic pot
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 13, 2016 12:38 AM CDT
33 Sickened in NYC Mass Overdose
A package of K2, which contains herbs and spices sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.   (AP Photo/Kelley McCall, File)

More than two dozen people were sickened in an apparent mass drug overdose on a New York City street corner, sparking warnings from police and health officials about the dangers of using K2, also known as synthetic marijuana. Calls started coming in Tuesday morning that numerous people appeared to be overdosing in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, the AP reports. Witnesses reported seeing victims lying on the sidewalk, shaking, and leaning against trees and fire hydrants. At least 33 people were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, police say. It was not immediately clear what drugs the victims had ingested, but police say some of the victims had been smoking K2.

The Health Department issued a statement saying it "recorded a spike in K2-related emergency room visits" connected to the incident in Brooklyn. The department says it's investigating and monitoring emergency rooms across the city. "We remind New Yorkers that K2 is extremely dangerous," the Health Department said in its statement. "The city's public awareness efforts and aggressive enforcement actions over the past year have contributed to a significant decline in ER visits related to K2." The drug affects the same area of the brain as marijuana, but it contains chemicals made in labs and sprayed onto dry leaves. These chemicals are not derived from the marijuana plant, according to the Health Department. (Synthetic pot contributed to this toddler's tragic death.)

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