Rat poison chemical linked to synthetic pot smoker death

Ray Weaver
April 7, 2018

Two deaths have been reported from dozens of cases of severe bleeding tied to fake weed in IL, and health officials say the symptoms in the Maryland case are similar to those in IL.

The long-acting anti-coagulant brodifacoum (rodenticide) was confirmed in at least 18 patients.

The Illinois Department of Public Health tracks cases of bleeding from synthetic marijuana online. Public health officials say the product is not safe and if anyone has purchased it they shouldn't use it.

Although the cause of the March 28 death for the 22-year-old man in Cook County is still pending, health officials emphasized the serious harm that can come from brodifacoum.

Brodifacoum, which is used as rat poison, impairs blood clotting in humans and can cause fatal gastrointestinal and intracerebral hemorrhage.

The medical examiner's office said it was investigating a second death that involved similar bleeding symptoms, but did not provide further details about the case. This poisoning is unique in that its effects can last weeks to months.

In addition to the IL cases, Emergency Departments in IN (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), and Wisconsin (1) have reported cases of serious unexplained bleeding. Other interventions may be necessary.

"As bleeding can be life-threatening, it is important that people who have used synthetic marijuana seek medical attention at the first sign of poisoning so we can begin treatment right away". They are also sold on the street, she said, and those experiencing the bleeding said they obtained the products in convenience stores and from dealers and friends. "Without more information, IDPH does not know how much contaminated product is circulating or where".

"People don't realize how risky this is", she said.

Synthetic cannabinoids are chemicals sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or converted to liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes. "We are urging anyone who has a reaction to synthetic marijuana, such as severe bleeding, to call 911 or have someone take them to the emergency department immediately".

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