BALTIMORE, Md. (CIRCA) - Maryland health officials are sounding the alarm about synthetic marijuana, which they’ve now confirmed was recently mixed with rat poison.
"It's a dangerous drug to begin with, much more dangerous than regular marijuana even," said Mike Gimbel, a substance misuse consultant.
Officials at the Maryland Poison Center fielded a call on Tuesday from a user complaining of uncontrollable bleeding.
“The blood’s ability to clot was unmeasurable,” said Bruce Anderson, executive director of the center.
Police say it had been mixed with rat poison, and they are charging two store clerks in connection with the case.
The patient's symptoms are nearly identical to several recent cases in Illinois. Officials believe synthetic marijuana caused two deaths and at least 56 illnesses in the Chicago area.
“We very rarely find drugs on the street that have been poisoned,” Gimbel said. “That means there’s some real sick people out there trying to hurt people."
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the term “synthetic cannabinoids” applies to multiple different chemicals used to create substitutes for marijuana.
These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant. Because of this similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called “synthetic marijuana” (or “fake weed”), and they are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug. In fact, they are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening. Synthetic cannabinoids are part of a group of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS). NPS are unregulated mind-altering substances that have become newly available on the market and are intended to produce the same effects as illegal drugs. Some of these substances may have been around for years but have reentered the market in altered chemical forms, or due to renewed popularity.