Fake Marijuana 'K2' Sickens Over 200 People in Austin - Quick Facts About Synthetic Drugs

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Jun 15, 2015 08:13 AM EDT

BETHPAGE, NY - AUGUST 30: A woman prepares a marijuana cigarette as photographed on August 30, 2014 in Bethpage, New York. (Photo : Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Over 200 people in Austin, Texas have been sickened in the last three weeks from using the synthetic drug K2, according to the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

According to authorities, the cases of people getting sick from taking fake marijuana have persisted for almost three weeks. CBS reports that previously, calls and cases related to the drug only lasted for four days. Just last Saturday alone, Austin authorities were alerted to 14 cases of K2 complications.

What is fake marijuana?

Fake marijuana, K2, Spice, and other designer drugs fall under the category of synthetic cannabinoids. These are man-made chemicals that are designed to mimic the "high" and other effects of marijuana.

According to the National Drug Control Policy, synthetic drugs are sold in retail outlets under misleading names such as potpourri or herbal incense.

Are these addictive?

Yes. Like many other drugs, those who use and abuse synthetics may experience addiction and withdrawal symptoms, according to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH).

How is synthetic marijuana used?

It is mainly smoked like real cannabis. It is sometimes mixed with genuine weed or prepared as herbal infusion drink.

How does it affect the brain?

Some users said that they go through a similar experience with those produced by marijuana. Some effects include: altered perception, relaxation, and elevated mood. However, there have been reports that the synthetic's effects are far stronger and may cause extreme paranoia, anxiety and hallucinations.

What are some side effects of synthetic marijuana?

Those who abuse fake marijuana whoe have been taken to Poison Control Centers report effects that include: vomiting, agitation, confusion, rapid heart rate and hallucinations. It can also increase blood pressure and has been linked to few cases of heart attacks.

What are the signs and symptoms of synthetic abuse?

According to Narconon International, some signs and symptoms may include: seizures, hallucinations, delusions, aggression, paranoia, chest pain, heart attack. In some cases, it can also bring about homicidal tendencies, death, suicidal tendencies and attempts, and other self-destructive behaviors.

What are other names of synthetic marijuana?

According to New York's Department of Health, other names of fake marijuana include: K2, Spice, Chronic Spice, Spice Gold, Spice Silver, Black Mamba, Mr. Nice Guy, Smoke, Sky High, Moon Rocks, Solar Flare, Spice Smoked Blend, Earth Impact, Genie and Sence, among others.

Who do I call if there is a person suffering from fake marijuana intoxication?

For emergencies, dial 911. If it is necessary, the Poison Control Center may also be alerted at (800)222-1222.

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