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Synthetic marijuana overdoses on the rise in Texas

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The Dallas Police Department (DPD) is on a search for the distributor of a bad batch of K2. According to local ABC News affiliate WFAA in Dallas, Texas on Sunday, May 4, the outbreak of K2 — a synthetic marijuana — is increasing across Texas. News 8 Daybreak anchor Shon Gables said there have been dozens of overdoses of the drug reported in northeast Texas — at least 30 since Thursday, May 1. A number of new cases in the Austin area were reported on Saturday, with at least 23 of those overdoses linked to the synthetic drug in downtown Austin. Paramedics reported that one of the 23 patients was a pregnant woman in her third-trimester who took K2 just before having a seizure. They are not sure, however, if the synthetic drug caused her seizure. Paramedics caution that heat experienced from rising temperatures, like that of recent days in Texas, makes K2 even more dangerous than usual.

Commander Wesley Hopkins with Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service (EMS) said, “As we get into the summer and the temperatures go up, that any kind of medical condition that you have, illicit drug use exacerbates that. So you really do get that increased heart rate, become hypothermic very quickly — and that can kill.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) published in an article about K2 — also known as spice, skunk, moon rocks, fake weed, among other names — in January 2011 and revised in December 2012 that was labeled “not for human consumption.” NIDA proclaimed that the “Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has designated the five active chemicals most frequently found in Spice as Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to sell, buy, or possess them.” Drug dealers or suppliers get around that law, however, by changing, substituting or combining different chemicals in the ingredients of the illicit drug, rated second to marijuana by its users. Their target market is the teenage population, mostly high school seniors.

Currently, the overdoses are under investigation by DPD which has discovered a source who believes, according to WFAA News, the drug that has caused 125 overdoses in Dallas and Austin over the last several days is linked to a Dallas supplier. Toxicology tests will reveal whether those overdoses did come from the same batch.

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