Illinois Reports Death Associated with Synthetic Cannabinoid

To date IDPH has reports of 38 people in the Chicago area and in central Illinois who have experienced severe bleeding and reported using synthetic cannabinoids. All of those individuals have required hospitalization, and three of them tested positive for brodifacoum, a lethal anticoagulant often used as a rat poison.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on March 31 reported the death of a person who experienced severe bleeding and reported using synthetic cannabinoids, often called Spice, K2, or fake weed.

According to the department's news release, to date, IDPH has reports of 38 people in the Chicago area and in central Illinois who have experienced severe bleeding and reported using synthetic cannabinoids. All of those individuals have required hospitalization for symptoms such as coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody nose, and/or bleeding gums, and three of them tested positive for brodifacoum, a lethal anticoagulant often used as a rat poison.

"Synthetic cannabinoids are unsafe. They can contain a variety of chemicals and users often don't know what those are, such as rat poison," said IDPH Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah, MD, JD. "Despite the perception that synthetic cannabinoids are a safe alternative to marijuana, they can cause very severe illness."

Synthetic cannabinoids are made by spraying chemicals on dried plant material. They can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized in e-cigarettes and other devices. IDPH said it is investigating to try to identify any common products and determine where they were obtained, noting that synthetic cannabinoids are found across Illinois and the United States in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, and online. Anyone who has a reaction to synthetic cannabinoids should call 911 or have someone take them to an emergency department immediately, according to the agency.

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