Spike in synthetic marijuana overdoses prompts DHH to ban 8 new types

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wwltv.com

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 2:15 PM

The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Officials say Baton Rouge-area hospitals have treated at least 100 people in the past two weeks suffering from apparent synthetic marijuana overdoses.

The Advocate reports the spike in overdoses, none fatal, prompted the state's Department of Health and Hospitals secretary to sign an "emergency rule" banning eight new types of synthetic marijuana, many of which law enforcement officials say they have seen recently in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas.

"No temporary high is worth the serious devastating consequences these drugs could have," DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert said Thursday to address the recent uptick in synthetic marijuana overdoses.

It wasn't clear how many synthetic marijuana overdoses the area hospitals normally see in a two-week span. Dr. Beau Clark, the parish coroner, said local hospitals haven't previously seen as many overdoses in such a short amount of time.

Synthetic marijuana usually consists of various herbs sprayed with synthetic compounds aimed at mimicking the effects of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

"The symptoms (of use) can range pretty widely from sedation to significant agitation, violent behavior, delirium, self-injurious behavior and frank psychosis," said Dr. William Elliott, of Baton Rouge General Medical Center. The long-term effects of abusing the drug range from depression to psychotic breakdowns and schizophrenia diagnoses in patients with no history of mental illness, Elliott said.

The emergency rule, signed by Kliebert, will temporarily ban eight forms of synthetic marijuana not listed in the state's law prohibiting banned Schedule I drugs. The list already includes more than a dozen types, or strands, of synthetic marijuana.

"Every time the government bans a substance, there's chemists, there's people looking to beat it, trying to come up with an alternative," said East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.

 

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