Feds warn of contaminants in K2, Spice

spice photoPhoto credit: JustThinkTwice.gov

Plain old marijuana is generally regarded as being fairly harmless, though still illegal in many areas. This has created a market for synthetic marijuana that’s being sold under brand names including K2 and Spice in gas stations, convenience stores and elsewhere.

The problem with the synthetics, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is that they’re often contaminated with brodifacoum, a very long-acting anticoagulant commonly used in rat poison, the FDA said in a statement.

Brodifacoum causes all kinds of adverse effects including rapid heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior and suicidal thoughts, and an increase in blood pressure, as well as causing reduced blood supply to the heart, kidney damage, and seizures. Besides harming individuals who unknowingly consume it, it can also contaminate the nation’s blood supply if victims donate blood before becoming ill.

In recent months, hundreds of individuals in about 10 states – many in the Midwest – have been hospitalized after experiencing severe bleeding and other complications. There also have been several related deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Anyone who has used synthetic marijuana products should be vigilant for signs of bleeding. These include easy bruising, oozing gums, and nose bleeds. People experiencing these symptoms after using synthetic marijuana products should immediately seek medical attention, as the effects of brodifacoum are treatable.

People with certain pre-existing conditions or those already taking certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs may be at a higher risk for such bleeding and should seek prompt medical treatment.

The FDA and other agencies have been working to eradicate the contaminated products, which are often marked or labeled as “not for human consumption,” but they continue to show up in the marketplace. Brodifacoum’s appeal to users is that it’s thought to extend the “high” of synthetic cannabinoids.


About the Author

Truman Lewis
Truman has been a bureau chief and correspondent in D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix and elsewhere, reporting for radio, television, print and news services, for more than 30 years. Most recently, he has reported extensively on health and consumer issues for ConsumerAffairs.com and FairfaxNews.com.