SHERIFF: Synthetic Drug Causes Multiple Overdoses

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is alerting the community about the dangers of K2, an illegal synthetic drug that is believed to be the cause of more than 50 non-fatal overdoses in the County.

An example of synthetic marijuana. Submitted photo.

K2, also known as “spice”, is a synthetic marijuana designed to mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an ingredient in naturally grown marijuana plants. Users of synthetic marijuana report effects such as extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucination. Recent overdose victims have often been in an agitated state.

“Fortunately we have not experienced any deaths due to this recent series of K2 overdoses. The quick actions of first responders and proper medical care at area hospitals has no doubt played a role making sure these victims are ok,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. “Last year we experienced 153 opioid-related deaths in the county, so it is pretty frightening when you think about more than 50 overdoses occurring in less than 2 weeks.”

Synthetic cannabinoids have been illegal in Minnesota since 2014 and are considered a Schedule 1 Narcotic by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. According to State law, possession of more than 42.5 grams of a synthetic cannabinoid is considered intent to sell and is a felony. Possession of less than 42.5 grams of a synthetic cannabinoid is a misdemeanor.

Several local and federal law enforcement agencies are investigating the recent overdoses in Hennepin County.

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