(02/25/14) - Fake pot - it's leading to what some doctors are calling an
epidemic - young people rushed to the ER after smoking synthetic marijuana.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has issued an emergency ban on synthetic marijuana because thousands of teens have been sickened, or even died smoking it. The trouble is, a lot of people think the fake pot is harmless, when it is anything but.
The effects are frightening, says emergency room doctor Christopher Colwell. "Fighting, thrashing, needing eight or nine big people to hold them down."
And Dr. Colwell says, the patients, usually young, "almost all of them have been in their teens, late teens, and early 20s."
In state after state, the warning is out: synthetic marijuana is dangerous.
Known as spice, synthetic marijuana is sold under a variety of names - Black Mamba, K2, Killer Clown. It is crushed herbs or plant materials that looks like marijuana, but that are treated with chemicals. Some of those chemicals can cause serious health effects.
"As quickly as one of these chemical substances becomes illegal, the makers simply replace it with a different dangerous substance. Legal in some states, illegal in others.
Synthetic marijuana is blamed for more than 11,000 emergency room visits in 2010. It has been linked to psychosis, kidney and brain damage, and in a few cases, has been associated with heart attacks.
ABC12 Main Station