Fake Marijuana Leaves 2 Dead, Several Dozen With 'Severe Bleeding' In Illinois

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Officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health warn that contaminated products could be in any county across the state.

Synthetic cannabinoids, also known as K2 or Spice, has been linked to 56 cases in which people in the state experienced severe bleeding after using the substance, officials with the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement. Those cases have included coughing up blood, having blood in their urine or having severe nose or gum bleeds.

"Despite the perception that synthetic cannabinoids are safe and a legal alternative to marijuana, many are illegal and can cause severe illness", IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah said in a statement earlier this week.

Fouad Masoud, 48 and Jad Allah, 44, from Justice, Illinois, a village near Chicago and Adil Khan Mohammed, 44 of Chicago were charged with selling synthetic cannabinoids - often called K2, Spice or fake weed.

Illinois State Police and Chicago Police allegedly traced several of the cases to King Mini Mart in Lawndale, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Two of those people have died, IDPH has said.

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Emergency rooms in IL are noticing a spike in synthetic pot users suffering from "severe bleeding", and state health officials are warning the public to remain vigilant. "However, synthetic cannabinoids are unregulated and identifying a source or sources is hard".

These mind-altering chemicals are called cannabinoids, since they are similar to the chemicals found in marijuana, though they can cause serious side effects that are different from those of marijuana. "Synthetic cannabinoids are unsafe", he said.

Synthetic cannabinoids are sold in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores and online. 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 unsafe or even life-threatening.

Since 2015 hundreds of people across the USA have overdosed and been hospitalized after smoking too much or bad batches of synthetic cannabis.

One study of a synthetic cannabinoid found that it was 85 times as potent as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana.

Cara Smith, spokeswoman for the Cook County Sheriff's Office told the Tribune, "If you use synthetic drugs, you're playing Russian roulette with your life".

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