BALTIMORE (WJZ)– In recent weeks, Maryland health officials say there’s been several hospitalizations associated with the use of synthetic marijuana, also known as fake weed.
As of Monday afternoon, there have been four cases of people becoming severely ill after reportedly using synthetic pot.
It’s a been concern for the medical community, as there have been cases nationally where people have actually died.
Video released by the NYPD more than two years ago of a naked man flailing about on the road, sounded the alarm then of the growing threat to public safety.
Authorities say the man was under the influence of synthetic marijuana.
Fast forward to 2018 to reports of Marylanders excessively bleeding after using the drug, which goes by many names such as K2, spice, fake or legal weed, have spiked.
Four cases since early April, according to Maryland Poison Center officials.
“The bleeding that can occur can be spontaneous, meaning it can just happen and it can happen anywhere,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson of the Maryland Poison Center.
Health officials are even more concerned after the death of three people in Chicago who died from the drug that authorities say was laced with rat poison.
“Synthetic marijuanas are abut 85 times more potent than the THC you find in natural cannabis,” said Dr. Erika Kane of the Concerted Care Group.
Medical experts say the drug increases the threat for things like rapid heart beats, seizures, and even comas.
One Baltimore store clerk says it’s been years since they’ve sold synthetic marijuana. He said if they’re caught, the fines could be in the thousands.
The problem is it’s still being marketed and despite warnings on packaging that it shouldn’t be consumed, some doctors say it continues reaching younger crowds.
“It is packaged specifically for that young set that is looking for something new to try,” Dr. Kane said.
It’s unclear if rat poison was in the drugs associated with the Maryland cases.
State health officials are also putting health care professionals on alert to be on the lookout for patients that are excessively bleeding.
The most recent cases have been reported mainly out of central and Western Maryland.