AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

CDC Warns: Rat Poison-Laced Marijuana Has Killed 3 People

By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a public warning about a “life-threatening” condition caused by synthetic marijuana use. More than 100 people in five states have been hospitalized for symptoms that included coughing up blood, bloody urine, severe bloody nose and bleeding gums.

In the past month, public health departments in five states reported serious bleeding  believed to be linked to inhaling fake marijuana laced with rat poison, the Kansas City Star reported on Tuesday.

The three deaths were reported in Illinois, which has recorded 107 cases so far, the state’s Department of Public Health said Monday.

Elsewhere, two people were hospitalized in Indiana and one each in Maryland, Wisconsin and Missouri.

At Least 18 People Have Been Exposed to Deadly Chemical

CDC testing found that at least 18 people have been exposed to brodifacoum, a deadly chemical that likely contaminated the synthetic marijuana.

Brodifacoum is typically used for killing rodents and other pests. “Some synthetic marijuana product samples related to the outbreak also tested positive for brodifacoum,” the CDC said.

On Monday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shared a message from the CDC about the recent use of synthetic cannabinoids, which also go by the names fake weed, synthetic marijuana, K2 and spice.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued its own warnings late last month after 38 users in the Chicago area and central part of the state suffered severe bleeding.

On Monday, the IDPH reported the death of a third individual “who experienced severe bleeding after using synthetic cannabinoids.” Two of the deaths occurred in men who were in their 20s; the third was a man in his 40s.

“Each day we’ve seen the number of cases rise,” IDPH Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah said in a statement. “Synthetic cannabinoids are unsafe. They are not regulated and people don’t know what chemicals may be in them, like rat poison. While efforts are underway to get the contaminated drugs out of circulation, it’s possible they could re-emerge. We urge people not to use synthetic cannabinoids now or ever.”

Synthetic cannabinoids are found in places like convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, and online, the IDPH statement added.

David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies.

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