Synthetic Marijuana Linked to Severe Bleeding, Deaths in IL

synthetic marijuana in hand

News reports published yesterday warn of a batch of synthetic marijuana that has been linked to two deaths and at least 54 cases of severe bleeding in Chicago and central Illinois. Each of these reported cases has involved the hospitalization of people who used the synthetic marijuana, citing symptoms like coughing up blood, urinating blood, and bloody noses and gums.1

Tests determined that at least some of the synthetic marijuana contained a chemical that is often used as an ingredient in rat poison. Authorities investigating the source of the drugs arrested three individuals involved in the sales of the synthetic drug at a convenience store in Chicago. Undercover officials say it was being sold in sealed containers marketed with the names Blue Giant and Crazy Monkey.1,2

Health experts have yet to determine if the bleeding is a result of a tainted batch or a new symptom of the synthetic drug but they are warning people to avoid ever using synthetic marijuana.

Why is Synthetic Marijuana So Dangerous?

Synthetic cannabinoids, often referred to as synthetic marijuana, fake weed, K2, and Spice, are often perceived to be a safe, legal alternative to illicit marijuana, when in fact, they are actually much more dangerous and powerful than marijuana.3

These illicit drugs are made by spraying dried plant materials with chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana. Although marijuana carries its own risks, synthetic pot or fake weed can contain hundreds of different chemicals and users may not ever be fully aware of what they are ingesting.

As a result, the effects of this drug can be extremely unpredictable, severe, or life-threatening. This most recent string of bloody cases and deaths in Illinois is a prime example of the dangers of synthetic marijuana.

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    Effects of Synthetic Marijuana Use

    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fake weed can cause similar effects to that of marijuana, but it may also cause other more serious mental and physical effects.4,5 Users may experience:

    • A feeling of relaxation
    • Elevated mood
    • Altered perception
    • Psychosis
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Vomiting
    • Violent behavior
    • Seizures
    • Heart attack
    • Kidney failure
    • Stroke
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Addiction

    Synthetic Marijuana Abuse in the U.S.

    According to a 2016 report published by the CDC, acute poisonings from synthetic marijuana increased dramatically between the years of 2010 and 2015. Doctors treated 456 people for synthetic pot intoxication during that time and this dangerous drug abuse trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down.6

    Drug Detox for Synthetic Marijuana Dependence and Addiction

    Just like marijuana, synthetic pot can also be addictive, and regular, long-term use may lead to physical dependence and addiction. If you or a loved one is addicted to synthetic pot, you should seek treatment immediately, as the physical effects are very unpredictable and dangerous.

    A medically-assisted drug detox program like Briarwood can provide several days of safe, medical monitoring to ensure your safety and comfort throughout the detox process. Our medical and clinical team will work together to provide comprehensive care that addresses all of your physical and psychological needs during detox.

    Synthetic marijuana detox should always be completed in a medically monitored environment to ensure physical safety, health, and comfort. Call Briarwood Detox Center today to enroll in a program or to learn more about our detox centers in Austin and Houston, Texas.


    1. https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/02/health/fake-weed-illinois-death-bn/index.html
    2. https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2018-04-02/synthetic-pot-leads-to-severe-bleeding-and-two-deaths-in-illinois
    3. https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/synthetic/synthetic-marijuana.html
    4. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids-k2spice
    5. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hsb/chemicals/sc/About.html
    6. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6527a2.htm?s_cid=mm6527a2_w

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