Fake Marijuana is Real Cause for Alarm

Monday, July 28, 2014

Health officials in New York City are raising the alarm about smoking synthetic marijuana. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 15 people went to the emergency room over the weekend after smoking fake weed. 

That's because it's stronger than regular marijuana — hundreds to thousands of times stronger, according to New York University-Tisch Hospital's Dr. Stephen Ross. It can lead to seizures and kidney failure and can intensify the symptoms of mental illnesses. It's been illegal in new York City since 2012, but according to Ross, hospitalizations from the drug aren't stopping.

"If anything, it seems we're seeing more people in the psychiatric ERs with pretty serious psychological complications from smoking synthetic cannabinoids," Ross said.

The Health Department said that so far this year there has been a 220 percent increase in hospitalizations from severe reactions to fake marijuana. Officials are asking people to call 311 if they see synthetic weed for sale.




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Comments [3]

Alyson Martin

Truly synthetic cannabis is Marinol, the FDA-approved synthetic THC pill. I'm not sure it's accurate to refer to substances like Spice as "synthetic marijuana." Nor do I think it's fitting to post an image of a cannabis plant for this story. Spice, and similar substances, are an amalgam of herbs and chemicals that behave very differently in the body. I spoke on the Brian Lehrer Show a few months ago about the book I co-authored, A New Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition (

Aug. 03 2014 12:41 PM
Mandy from Lower east side

I called the cops today as it's all overt area and they said it's not illegal. They can't do anything until it is?

Jul. 30 2014 07:15 PM
tacony from New York

Call 311? Are they kidding?

Bodegas all over the city sell synthetic weed. It's right behind the counter and comes in packets with dumb stuff on the label that appeals to kids.

I was in the bodega last week with a cop buying coffee right in front of me and the packets displayed right in his face. Are they being paid off or what? I don't understand how NYPD could not already have known about this. It's in practically EVERY bodega uptown.

Jul. 29 2014 09:50 AM

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