SYNTHETIC CANNABINOIDS

With names like Spice, K2, No More Mr. Nice Guy, and hundreds of others, the drugs often called “synthetic marijuana” are – in reality – very different from marijuana. They contain powerful chemicals called cannabimimetics and can cause severe, life-threatening health effects: severe agitation and anxiety, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and hallucinations. The drugs are made specifically to be abused. Like many other illegal drugs, synthetic marijuana is not tested for safety, and users don’t know exactly what chemicals they are putting into their bodies.

The harmful effects from these products were first reported in the U.S. in 2009. Since then, the drugs have spread throughout the country. Most recently, poison centers have played a key role in tracking and investigating exposures related to synthetic cannabinoids contaminated with the rat poison brodifacoum. In addition to the above stated risks of synthetic cannabinoid use, the contaminated product causes vitamin-K dependent antagonistic coagulopathy and has caused several fatalities. Common symptoms include back and side pain and excessive or unexplained bleeding (blood in the urine, bleeding from previous wounds, bleeding from the gums, and more). For more information, see CDC’s Clinical Action alert from April 23, 2018.

As of  October 31, 2022, poison centers have managed 437 calls for synthetic cannabinoid-related exposure cases.



FOR THE MEDIA:

Please cite this data as “National Poison Data System, American Association of Poison Centers.” Any and all print, digital, social, or visual media using this data must include the: “You can reach your local poison center by calling the Poison Help line: 1-800-222-1222. To save the number in your mobile phone, text POISON to 301-597-7137.” Email media@PoisonCenters.org or call 703-894-1863 for more information, questions, or to submit request data.

 MOST-RECENT DATA 

 MOST-RECENT TABLE

WHAT TO DO

  1. Call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 to speak to an expert at a local poison center.

  2. If you purchased the product in 2018, be aware that it may be contaminated with rat poison and cause severe or unexplained bleeding.

  3. If someone stops breathing, collapses, or has a seizure, call 9-1-1 immediately.

RETURN TO SEE ALL EMERGING HAZARDS 
TRACK EMERGING HAZARDS


Important notes about poison center data

America's Poison Centers maintains the National Poison Data System (NPDS) , the national database of information logged by the country’s regional poison centers serving all 50 United States, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and territories. Case records in this database are from self-reported calls: they reflect only information provided when the public or healthcare professionals report an actual or potential exposure to a substance, request information, or request educational materials. As such:
  • America's Poison Centers is not able to completely verify the accuracy of every report made to member centers.
  • Additional exposures may go unreported to poison centers and data referenced from the association should not be construed to represent the complete incidence of national exposures to any substance(s).
  • Poison center call volume about any given substance is influenced by the public’s awareness of the hazard or even the Poison Help line itself, which are heavily influenced by both social and traditional media coverage.
  • Poison data are considered preliminary and are subject to change until the dataset for a given year has been locked.
  • America's Poison Centers is continuously working to update the NPDS substance coding taxonomy to better serve the needs of America's Poison Centers members and surveillance partners. As a result, substances may be reclassified within NPDS’ coding hierarchy, and case counts may change. This is particularly true for novel or emerging substances.

The term “exposure” means someone has had contact with the substance in some way; for example, ingested, inhaled, or absorbed a substance by the skin or eyes, etc. Exposures do not necessarily represent poisonings or overdoses.


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