Statewide health advisory issued on synthetic marijuana

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ALBANY — After new and dangerous side effects of synthetic marijuana were recently reported in five states, New York’s Department of Health issued an advisory to hospitals about new dangers associated with the drug.

Reports out of Illinois, Maryland, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri described an outbreak of severe bleeding in patients who consumed rat poison-laced synthetic marijuana. No cases have been reported in New York.

Synthetic marijuana is often sold under the street name spice or K2. It is marketed as legal and often contains plant material coated by chemicals, which are supposed to mimic the effects of naturally grown marijuana.

Hospitals, emergency rooms and urgent care centers were warned to be aware of patients with severe bleeding and to report suspected synthetic marijuana usage to the DOH and their local Poison Information Center. Anyone possessing, distributing or selling the drug or offering it for sale will face a fine up to $500 and/or up to 15 days in jail. The state can also revoke a store’s liquor or lottery license.

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