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Synthetic Marijuana Leads to Over 60 Overdoses in 3 Days in Pennsylvania

If the Keystone State had real legal weed, we’re guessing there probably wouldn’t be four dozen folks recovering from their K2 trips.

by Zach Harris

The imported narcotic Spice, the smokeable bath salts equivalent that the media often dubs “synthetic marijuana,” was responsible for over 60 overdoses in one small Pennsylvania town over a three day period last weekend, shifting focus for a community that has for years been focused on the state’s persistent opioid epidemic.

According to Lancaster Online, emergency medical responders in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania reported to 65 overdose calls between Friday July 7th and Monday the 10th, with almost all of the ODs stemming from the smokeable research chemicals masked as “fake weed.”

"In 72 hours, that's a lot of overdoses. And it's not heroin. We are dealing with K2 or synthetic marijuana," Lancaster EMS executive director Bob May said.

But while the media, the corner stores that sell it, and the medical technicians responsible for responding to the overdoses continue to call the drug “synthetic marijuana,” the benign plant matter laced with chemical hallucinogens still has absolutely nothing to do with weed.

In Pennsylvania, a real medical marijuana program will debut next year, but with strict restrictions on access, prices expected to break the bank, and a total ban on selling raw plant matter, the exponentially safer option of real-deal cannabis might not be legally accessible for years.

Instead, Lancaster county officials are left fighting the area’s opioid epidemic and spice issue with one hand tied behind their back.

“While we are in the midst of a still-escalating opioid abuse epidemic, we must not forget the many other poisons being dealt and used in our communities,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said in a statement following the rash of overdoses. 

Fortunately, no one died during Lancaster’s K2 emergency, but medical officials were quick to point out that the opioid overdose quick-fix drug Narcan doesn’t work on patients overdosing on research chemicals, making the situation incredibly unpredictable. 

On the other hand, there has never been a fatal cannabis overdose in the drug’s history. Cannabis has already shown to be effective in the fight against opioid abuse, and it’s about time that state officials and medical experts start fighting “synthetic marijuana” use by encouraging real reefer as a healthy alternative.


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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.



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