Synthetic marijuana deaths triple since last year

By Oscar Pascual |

The year may only be halfway over, but 2015 has already seen three times as many deaths related to synthetic marijuana poisonings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a report released on Thursday, the CDC noted the spike in deaths, as well as a general rise in emergencies related to synthetic pot.

“The 2015 figures included a spike of 1,501 calls in April and 15 reported deaths, a three-fold increase over the five deaths reported in 2014,” states the report.

The potentially deadly marijuana substitute comes in names such as “spice” or “K2,” — synthetic versions of marijuana’s active compound known as cannabinoids.

Despite being marketed as a safe and legal alternative to real cannabis, synthetic pot is actually quite dangerous and is illegal in all states. Smoking synthetic pot can induce side effects like a racing heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and obviously death.

Synthetic marijuana abuse is steadily becoming a national problem, producing thousands of phone calls to poison control centers all over the nation.

“Between January and May 2015, U.S. poison centers in 48 states reported receiving 3,572 calls related to synthetic cannabinoid use, a 229 percent increase from the 1,085 calls received during the same January through May period in 2014,” said the report’s author, Royal Law.

The problem that fake pot presents has also caught the attention of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which classified four different types of synthetic marijuana as Schedule I in February. Even some states, such as Louisiana, have already banned the substances outright.

“The increasing number of synthetic cannabinoid variants available, higher toxicity of new variants, and the potentially increased use as indicated by calls to poison centers might suggest that synthetic cannabinoids pose an emerging public health threat,” Law’s team reported.

Photo credit: TheLCBridge.com