Spike of K2 overdoses in Lancaster County prompts warning from Wolf adminstration

Synthetic marijuana is flooding the streets of major U.S. cities this summer, causing a surge in overdoses and, according to some police officials, a rise in violent crime. Sold in slickly marketed packets with names like K2, Scooby Snax and Spice, the drugs are made up of a variety of chemicals and have little to do with marijuana.

HARRISBURG — The spike of overdoses in Lancaster County last weekend prompted a warning from the Wolf administration about the dangers of a synthetic marijuana known as K2.

“Synthetic marijuana is a man-made mind-altering chemical, that isn’t marijuana at all but made to mirror its effects,” Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs Jennifer Smith said in a press release. “It can have a much more powerful effect on the brain than chemicals found in the marijuana plant. The chemicals in them are often unknown, dangerous and deadly.”

Lancaster County emergency rooms have seen more than 125 overdoses attributed to K2 in the past few days, the Wolf administration said.

Synthetic marijuana can produce health effects such as:

  • Altered awareness of surroundings
  • Delusional or disordered thinking
  • Violent behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations and psychotic episodes
  • Suicidal thoughts

Health care providers with questions should consult with their poison center about the management of their patients. Residents can call 1-800-222-1222, the Poison help line, to speak with the experts at their local poison center about synthetic marijuana.