Reuters 19 March 2012
Three U.S. teenagers ended up in the emergency department with altered mental states and seriously elevated heart rates after smoking synthetic marijuana, doctors say in a new report that adds to earlier evidence the popular drug can be dangerous.
One 16-year-old girl who was brought in by her boyfriend refused to move or speak and did not respond when doctors rubbed her chest hard or pinched her. While her urine test was positive for THC, one of the active ingredients in natural marijuana, her boyfriend said they had also smoked K2, one of the many names for synthetic marijuana. The drugs were recently banned in the U.S. and the Drug Enforcement Administration has proposed to classify them permanently as schedule 1 controlled substances — a category that includes heroin and natural marijuana. The synthetic versions are blends of herbs and spices laced with cannabis-like chemicals, and are sold under a variety of names, including Spice, K2 and Red X Dawn. The synthetic drugs are believed to be much stronger than regular pot, however, and the products may include other ingredients, too. “Because it’s unregulated we don’t know exactly what’s in it,” said Dr. Joanna Cohen, one of the authors of the new report, which was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.