Health officials warn of dangers of ‘synthetic pot’
The so-called "synthetic pot" problem is growing, both in New Jersey and across the country.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds calls to poison control centers about synthetic pot from the beginning of this year through May were up more than 200 percent, compared to the same time last year.
According to Angelo Valente, the executive director of the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, the product that's being produced "is coming from various different sources."
"It's very difficult to tell what's being placed in this marijuana, but we know users are ingesting synthetic products, chemicals, that are really a wildcard as to what's being included in the marijuana," Valente said.
Doctor Steven Marcus, the executive director for the New Jersey Poison Information & Education System, said "this is stuff that's manufactured in a laboratory, has no association with true marijuana whatsoever."
He said the term "synthetic pot" is actually misleading.
"What we're seeing is a potpourri of chemicals that are actually being sprayed onto, usually some organic material and then smoked as if it were pot," Marcus said.
According to Marcus, this chemical concoction can produce some very extreme side effects.
"Anything from coma on one extent, on the other side to extreme agitation and even seizures," he said. "Some are extremely agitated, hyper-active, combative, and some patients are showing signs of kidney damage from these substances as well."
The bottom line, Marcus said, is "buyer beware, you have no idea when you buy this substance what you're getting."