Synthetic Cannabinoids Linked to Deaths in IL

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Synthetic marijuana is marketed as legal and sold in colorful packets with street names such as K2, Spice and AK-47.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says synthetic cannabinoids have now claimed the lives of three men, including two in their 20s and a third in in his 40s. Individuals who have been sickened by the synthetic cannabinoids have reported coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody nose, bleeding gums, and/or internal bleeding. Numerous people who reported being sick after using synthetic pot later tested positive for brodifacoum, a poison commonly used in rodent control. "However, synthetic cannabinoids are unregulated and identifying a source or sources is hard". Because of this similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called "synthetic marijuana" (or "fake weed"), and they are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug.

In 2016, the state targeted shops selling synthetic marijuana.

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It can be made from any one of dozens of chemical compounds manufactured in labs in China, the US and eastern Europe.

Although the majority of the cases were in IL, including the three deaths, several cases were found in Indiana, Maryland, Missouri and Wisconsin, according to a CDC alert to clinicians released April 5. They're called cannabinoids because their chemicals are similar to what can be found in a real marijuana plant.

Makers of synthetic cannabis have attempted to bypass state and federal laws banning certain strains or chemical compounds by labelling the substance not fit for human consumption. While the substances are meant to mimic the effects of marijuana, they are often far more risky for users.

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The CDC has concurred that the use of synthetic cannabinoids can lead to serious illness or death.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the state Department of Health issued a statewide health advisory to emergency departments, hospitals and urgent care centers. Many synthetic cannabinoids also are illegal.

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