Officials warn synthetic marijuana making people bleed, laced with rat poison

State health officials said a person in central Maryland suffered bleeding after using synthetic marijuana.

The patient’s symptoms are similar to the description of dozens of cases in the Chicago region reported in the past three weeks, in which two people died after smoking synthetic pot. Now, there’s concern that the deadly drug is in Maryland.

“It’s a dangerous drug to begin with, much more dangerous than regular marijuana even,” said Mike Gimbel, a substance misuse consultant.

In Chicago, three men are facing charges for allegedly selling synthetic marijuana, or K2, laced with rat poison in their convenience store. According to the Illinois Department of Health, 56 people statewide suffered severe bleeding and two people died. It is not clear if all the cases are connected to the arrests.

“We’ve had our first case in Maryland of an individual who was using one of these synthetic cannabinoid products that then developed bleeding and had their blood coagulopathy panel altered in a significant way,” said Bruce Anderson, executive director of the Maryland Poison Center.

According to the Maryland Poison Center, the rat poison in the drug is very potent.

“People can develop bleeding problems that ultimately can persist for weeks to months,” Anderson said.

“This is really scary. This is something we don’t usually see,” Gimbel said.

Gimbel said the synthetic drug could be mixed into real marijuana and a user might not be able to detect it. Anyone who uses the drug and develops significant, unexplained bleeding should seek medical care right away.

“If you’re with some people and they’re smoking pot, or if you’re smoking fake pot and, all of a sudden, they get a back pain or start bleeding, or their nose is bleeding, we’ve got to get them to the hospital. Call 911 immediately and get them the help that they need,” Gimbel said.

If you think you may have used tainted K2, you can also call the Maryland Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

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