The Washington Post recently reported on a new synthetic drug being sold over-the-counter in gas stations and liquors stores throughout D.C. The drugs, sold under the names K2, Scooby Snax, Crazy Clown, Bizzaro and Spice (to name but a few), are synthetic forms of marijuana. A public warning has been issued about the dangers of these synthetic drugs because seven people staying in the Community for Creative Non-Violence, a homeless shelter, on June 5th reportedly took the drugs and overdosed on them. So far, all seven people are still alive. The Post reported that all of them were in serious condition.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s advisory “noted that there has been a dangerous spike in overdoses in the last month.”

The associated dangers

Synthetic marijuana is a hallucinogen, with properties more similar to drugs like PCP than to natural cannabis. Some of the side effects of using it include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Paranoia
  • Increased chance of stroke
  • Seizures
  • Nerve trauma
  • Potential loss of motor skills

Though the D.C. police have not reported any deaths associated with the drug as of yet, the complications and effects of the drug could be potentially fatal.

The fallout

Mayor Bowser’s response to the problems of synthetic marijuana has been swift. Fox 5 News reports that the Mayor’s office is considering making it illegal to sell the drug at all, citing her as saying “We are shooting out the word to all of our retailers if they are in the business of selling that illegal synthetic drug, we are stepping up our efforts to fight it.” No definitive word has been given about whether or not such a measure will move forward. Washington, D.C.’s Drug Enforcement Administration has banned many of the substances in the drugs, but manufacturers have simply swapped one ingredient for another to get around the bans.

Synthetic drugs are not new, but they are dangerous. The local Washington, D.C. administration is right to move quickly, to help reduce the number of kids who might be made dangerously ill by the products.

D.C. residents who believe they see or know someone using synthetic marijuana are encouraged to call the Department of Behavioral Health’s 24-7 Access Helpline at 888.793.4357. The D.C. police are looking for information about the illegal sale of the drugs; people can call 202.727.9099 with information, or text 50411 to make a report anonymously.