Fake Marijuana: Bleeding to Death
Since March 2018, over 200 cases of coagulopathy - the body’s inability to stop bleeding - have been reported by state health departments to the CDC, which includes 5 deaths. The Illinois Department of Health has received reports of 164 cases of severe bleeding following the use of synthetic cannabinoids, 4 of which have died. More than 95 patient blood samples confirm the presence of brodifacoum, a blood-thinning product used to kill rodents. "A working hypothesis is the synthetic cannabinoids were contaminated with brodifacoum," the CDC said.
On May 25, 2018 the CDC issued a Health Advisory to alert the healthcare community of life-threatening bleeding associated with synthetic (man-made) cannabinoids use. Cannabinoids act on the same brain cell receptors as THC, the main ingredient in marijuana. However, the hundreds of known synthetic cannabinoids chemicals affect the brain in different and often unpredictable ways compared to marijuana.
Synthetic cannabinoids, also known as synthetic marijuana and fake weed, are widely available and sold under a number of names:
· Mr. Happy
· Scooby Snax
· Black Mamba
These products can be
· Sprayed onto plant material and smoked
· Mixed into a liquid and vaped in electronic nicotine delivery devices (such as e-cigarettes)
· Added to herbal tea or to food and swallowed
· Elevated mood
· Altered perception of surrounding objects and conditions
While many brands and ingredients are illegal, makers of synthetic cannabinoids get around these laws by creating new products with different ingredients or by labeling them “not for human consumption.”
· There are no standards for making, packaging, or selling synthetic cannabinoid chemicals. That means that two packets of a brand-named product may have completely different chemicals
· The amount of the synthetic cannabinoid chemical(s) can vary between batches or even within the same batch
· Synthetic cannabinoid products may be contaminated with other drugs or toxic chemicals, such as brodifacoum
Signs of bleeding caused by brodifacoum:
· Bleeding gums
· Excessive bleeding following an injury
· Vomiting blood, coughing up blood, blood in urine or stool
· Excessively heavy menstrual bleeding
· Back or flank pain
· Altered mental status
· Feeling faint or fainting
· Loss of consciousness
Synthetic cannabinoids effects on the body:
· Confusion and concentration problems
· Hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, violent behavior
· Sleepiness and dizziness
· Breathing problems
· Gastrointestinal problems
· Heart attack, fast heart rate, high blood pressure, and stroke
· Kidney failure
· Muscle damage
Synthetic cannabinoids can be addictive. Withdrawal symptoms include:
Treatment: The antidote for the blood-thinning properties of brodifacoum is Vitamin K, which can cost thousands of dollars.
Prevention: CDC recommends that people don’t use synthetic cannabinoids. They are dangerous because it is impossible for people to know what chemicals are in the product, how much they are being exposed to, and how their body will read to the chemicals.
Synthetic cannabinoids users who develop any unusual bruising or bleeding should seek medical attention immediately.