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Illinois health officials warn Synthetic marijuana users could experience ‘bleeding from eyes and ears’

April 2, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Illinois health officials warn Synthetic marijuana users could experience ‘bleeding from eyes and ears’

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Hospital emergency rooms in the state of Illinois have seen a spike in synthetic marijuana users who suffer from “severe bleeding,” and state health officials are urging the public to stay vigilant.

The Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) released a statement on Wednesday revealing that at least six people in Illinois had been rushed to the hospital after ingesting the man-made drug — also referred to as “fake weed,” “K2” or “spice.” On Friday, the number of cases increased to 32.

There are currently cases in at least eight communities in the Chicago including Cook County, Dupage County, Kane County, McLean County, Peoria County, Tazewell County and Will County, WGN-TV reported.

However, authorities think that the number will increase, as it’s possible contaminated products have been distributed across the state.

“Despite the perception that synthetic cannabinoids are safe and a legal alternative to marijuana, many are illegal and cause severe illness,” IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah announced in a statement this week. “The recent cases of bleeding are evidence of the harm synthetic cannabinoids can cause.”

Synthetic marijuana is comprised of hundreds of different chemicals — and their effect on the body is variable.

“These are called cannabinoids because they act on the same brain cell receptors as the active ingredient in marijuana,” IDPH stated, warning that the drug’s side effects can be fatal. “Synthetic cannabinoid products are unsafe. It is difficult to know what’s in them or what your reaction will be.”

Users have reported an extensive range of symptoms, from bleeding gums and bloody noses to bloody urine. Women who are menstruating have also suffered from a higher than average flow. Bleeding from the eyes and ears can also occur after use, IDPH added.

“This bleeding is not expected, at least in a significant population so quickly,” Dr. Melissa Millewich, an emergency room doctor at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, said to the Chicago Tribune.

Health officials are warning those who have bought synthetic cannabinoid products within the last month — whether it was from a store or a dealer — not to use the product. IDPH spokesperson Melaney Arnold said that the product is outlawed for sale across the state, but some companies alter the “molecular makeup of the products” to “get around” the law.

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