Synthetic marijuana causes spike in CT overdoses

Emergency vehicles respond to Wednesday's overdoses in New Haven

More than 70 people have fallen ill at New Haven Green near Yale University, Connecticut, in suspected overdoses of a virulent batch of synthetic marijuana.

Testing from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration revealed that the drug in question is K2.

K2, or "spice" as it is called on the street, is usually plant material sprayed with psychoactive substances and sold in small, colorful packets.

"We are searching and executing search warrants at additional locations to make sure that any additional product that may be out there that we can get in to our custody", says New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell.

"It's very reminiscent of a mass casualty incident", New Haven Office of Emergency Management Director Rick Fontana told the New Haven Register.

No one has died from the overdoses in CT, but in April two people died in Chicago from a bad batch of K2 that caused severe bleeding in 54 other people.

No deaths were reported, and most of those brought to local hospitals have been discharged, although some were said to be in a critical condition.

Police will name those arrested by Friday evening, they said, while they swarmed the park and searched peoples' homes looking for K2, the banned synthetic marijuana they believe is responsible for the overdose outbreak, according to the Associated Press.

Some victims were said to be unconscious while others were vomiting, nauseated or lethargic.

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First responders in New Haven initially suspected that the drugs were laced with some form of opioid and used Narcan, which combats opioid overdoses, on the patients.

Synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, contains man-made chemicals that act on the same cell receptors in the brain as THC does in natural marijuana. She also asked that the city be given larger supplies of the opioid antidote Narcan from the state Department of Public Health, said city spokesman Laurence Grotheer. Toxicology tests remained pending.

Eighteen people collapsed on Wednesday morning within a span of three-and-a-half hours, officials said.

'Today's emergency is deeply troubling and illustrative of the very real and serious threat that illicit street drugs pose to health of individuals, ' the Democratic governor said. Other victims reported paying for the drugs.

'This is happening nationwide, ' Harp said.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the state departments of Public Health and Mental Health and Addiction Services were helping New Haven officials.

The slew of overdoses comes as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a preliminary report on Wednesday on the record number of American drug deaths.

Fasano said the Green has become "a place of despair" and 'no longer an attraction for families or economic development'.

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