Fake pot caused ‘zombie’ outbreak in NYC last summer

02-27-2017 Posted in Addiction, Marijuana, opioids, Substance Abuse

The rate of abuse of synthetic cannabinoids has seen a rapid increase across the United States. Banned in the U.S., these compounds are produced in underground labs in South Asia and China. Their non-detectability in most drug tests and low price make it so popular with the masses.

Even though marijuana has been legalized in some form in 29 U.S. states, including the District of Columbia, its synthetic form, used as street drugs, is causing a mayhem across the nation. The drug that led to mass overdose in Brooklyn in July 2016 was identified as “AMB-FUBINACA,” the synthetic form of marijuana. The drug, also known by street names – AK-47, K2 and Spice – was developed by a pharmaceutical company but was never tested on humans. Synthetic marijuana is considered 85 times more potent than real marijuana.

Of the 33 people who overdosed after smoking the synthetic drug in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, 18 were hospitalized for emergency treatment. Though there were no casualties, many of the affected collapsed or had seizures. Urine and blood tests of the affected showed that the substance that caused havoc was the synthetic version of pot also popularly known as “AK-47 24 Karat Gold.”

As per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), synthetic marijuana is created in the lab and is not fit for consumption.

Synthetic marijuana vs. real marijuana

According to a recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December 2016, synthetic marijuana is far more powerful than the natural cannabis. The study focused on 18 of the Brooklyn residents who had a dangerous reaction after smoking “AK-47 24 Karat Gold” in July 2016.

As per study author Dr. Roy Gerona, Ph.D., fake pot is unregulated, highly potent and bears no resemblance to the real plant. As per Dr. Gerona, thousands of these synthetic drugs were investigated by scientists for their pain relieving effects but were abandoned midway because they did not work or were found to be unsafe.

These drugs are created in unauthorized labs and thus, may contain unidentified substances of unknown potency. Given that the active components of such drugs constantly change, these drugs are extremely harmful.

According to the NIDA, consumption of these products can lead to a combination of dangerous aftereffects, including vomiting, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, kidney damage, seizures, paranoia and confusion. It can also cause hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and violent behavior in their users.

As per the researchers, a synthetic cannabinoid developed by a major pharmaceutical company was responsible for the “zombie” outbreak in Brooklyn. As per bystanders and emergency medical representatives present at the Brooklyn scene, the affected people had “zombielike” blank stares, lethargic mechanical movement and were groaning.

Temporary ban on Pink

Law enforcement agencies are trying their best to tackle 10 harmful synthetic drugs. In November 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) temporarily banned synthetic drug U-47700, also known as just U4 or Pink. The synthetic opioid was legal in 46 American states. The DEA ban classified “Pink” as a Schedule I substance and put it in the same category as heroin and cannabis.

Available in the form of powder, pill, or nasal spray, Pink is commonly imported from China and other Asian countries. Discovered in the 1970s and never tested on humans, the name is derived from the pinkish hue of the powder. Since January 2016, the drug has been involved in 80 deaths across the U.S.

Help at hand

Knowingly or unknowingly, if you or someone you know has fallen into the trap of synthetic drugs, including synthetic pot or Pink, it is time to seek immediate professional help. Contact the 24/7 Drug Addiction Helpline to find one of the best inpatient drug abuse treatment centers or outpatient drug abuse treatment centers in the U.S., depending upon the requirement. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-403-5607 or chat online to get help for drug addiction.

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