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Synthetic marijuana blamed for 20 overdoses in one Connecticut park in 2 days

by Carter Sherman
Aug 15 2018, 7:30pm

More than 20 people overdosed in one day in one Connecticut park, from what authorities think was a bad batch of synthetic marijuana.

The drug, K2, led to as many as 39 people to overdose in New Haven between Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening, the New Haven Register reported. No one has died, according to CNN reported, though two individuals are in life-threatening condition. Individuals were found unconscious, dealing with vomiting, increased heart rates, and decreased respiratory rates.

Synthetic marijuana, which can be addictive, has been around for decades, but it’s growing in usage thanks to people sharing information on the internet.

"It's a nationwide problem that people are self-medicating for several different reasons, and every agency — police, fire, medical hospitals — all are strained at this time,” New Haven Fire Chief John Alston Jr. told reporters. “This is a problem that's not going away."

READ: Opioids are killing too many people to keep up with all the bodies

At one point during the day, New Haven officials had to abruptly cut short a press conference in order to help someone who had overdosed, Time reported.

This isn’t the first time that a suspected bad batch of K2 and its variants have caused a mass series of overdoses. In June 2016, 16 people overdosed on synthetic marijuana in a Houston park within four hours, the Houston Press reported at the time. In May 2018, 56 people overdosed over the course of a few days in Brooklyn, according to the New York Times.

The news of the Connecticut overdoses also emerged the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary data about fatal drug overdoses in the United States in 2017. About 72,000 Americans died due to overdoses last year, an increase of about 10 percent over 2016 numbers, mainly thanks to both a continued rise in Americans’ use of opioids and to a surge in synthetic opioids. Those opioids, which include fentanyl and carfentanil, are far more deadly.

“Even when you think you’re doing better, all it takes is one bad batch of fentanyl in any state, and you’re going to have deaths,” Mark Levine, Vermont’s health commissioner, told the New York Times

Cover: New Haven emergency personnel respond to overdose cases on the New Haven Green in Connecticut on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. (Arnold Gold/New Haven Register via AP)