News & Events

Cases are on the Rise—Effects can be Harmful and Deadly

Baltimore, MD (April 17, 2018) – The Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Poison Center have reported the fourth hospitalization in Maryland from individuals experiencing risk of severe bleeding after using synthetic cannabinoids, which are often called Spice, K2, Bliss, Scooby Snax, or fake weed. 

Clinical signs include bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding of the gums, bleeding out of proportion to the level of injury, coughing up blood, vomiting blood, blood in urine or stool, or excessively heavy menstrual bleeding and back pain. 

Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made, mind-altering chemicals that are sprayed onto dried plant material.  They can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized in e-cigarettes and other devices.  These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant.  The health effects from using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable, harmful, and deadly. Additionally, it is likely that these products have been contaminated with a product that makes people bleed and there is no way to identify which products are contaminated. 

Synthetic cannabinoids are found in places like drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, and online. The potential for harm applies to synthetic cannabinoids purchased legally or illegally. 

The four cases reported in Maryland have noted similarities to those in Illinois, where 131 cases—including three deaths—have been reported since March 7, 2018. 

“If you are using synthetic cannabinoids—stop,” said Dr. Howard Haft, deputy secretary of Public Health Services at the Maryland Department of Health. “Make no mistake, using synthetic cannabinoids is extremely dangerous and can cause death.”

Anyone who has used synthetic cannabinoids in the past three months—and develops any of the symptoms outlined above—such as severe bleeding, should call 911 or have someone take them to the Emergency department immediately.  We also ask that you contact the Maryland Poison Center at 800-222-1222.

Numbers of cases reported will be updated each weekday on both the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Poison Center websites.

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Marylanders who need help finding substance related disorder treatment resources should visit MdDestinationRecovery.org, BeforeItsTooLateMD.org or call the Maryland Crisis Hotline, which provides 24/7 support, at 1-800-422-0009. If you know of someone who could use treatment for substance related disorders treatment facilities can be located by location and program characteristics on our page at https://goo.gl/aRRExJ.    

 The Maryland Department of Health is the State agency that protects Maryland’s public health. We work together to promote and improve the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management, and community engagement. Stay connected: http://www.twitter.com/MDHealthDept and http://www.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH.


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