K2 synthetic weed use spiked over past year, says CDC

Police and legislators are starting to crack down on synthetic marijuana.

Story highlights

  • Use of K2 (aka "spice") spiked in the past year
  • Three deaths are blamed on these drugs during a five-year period

(CNN)The number of cases of poisoning from synthetic marijuana rose sharply in the past year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found, while three deaths -- including that of a teenager -- were blamed on these drugs between 2010 and 2015.

All told, medical toxicologists in the United States reported 456 cases in five years of highly toxic effects caused by lab-produced cannabinoid drugs commonly referred to as "K2" or "spice." They are also known as "Black Mamba," "Bliss," "Bombay Blue," "Genie" and "Zohai."
    "What struck us is over the last year we've seen a dramatic increase in synthetic cannabinoid poisonings," said Dr. Jeffrey Brent, one of the authors of Thursday's report published in the "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report."
      Wednesday's news of 33 people collapsing on the streets of New York City, presumably from an overdose of K2, underlined the seriousness of these findings. The cases in Brooklyn are not counted in the new CDC report.

      Serious consequences

      Synthetic cannabinoids can be anywhere from two to 100 times more potent than THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, the researchers said