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State health department officials issue warning about synthetic marijuana

Posted 9/21/23

MASSENA — New York State Depart of Health officials are issuing a warning about synthetic cannabinoids that have been solid in the Mohawk Valley. Officials say the samples contained synthetic …

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State health department officials issue warning about synthetic marijuana

Posted

MASSENA — New York State Depart of Health officials are issuing a warning about synthetic cannabinoids that have been solid in the Mohawk Valley.

Officials say the samples contained synthetic opioids that can create a deadly cocktail when ingested.

Two samples taken of the cannabinoids, often known as K2 and Spice among other names, were purchased at local convenience stores and contained five Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS), including two potent novel synthetic opioids.

"Synthetic cannabinoids should never be confused for legally sold cannabis," New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "These synthetic cannabinoids often contain harmful substances that have a range of effects from euphoria to causing extreme anxiety, disorientation, hallucinations, and psychosis. However, it is rare to find opioids in the product and this new addition can cause overdose or even death. If you witness someone experiencing an overdose, treat it as an opioid overdose and administer naloxone as soon as possible."

Officials say synthetic cannabinoids are not natural products but rather chemical mixtures created in a laboratory to mimic THC, which is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Over the years, hundreds of different synthetic cannabinoid chemicals are manufactured and sold, with new ones appearing each year, state officials say.

According to state officials, the synthetic marijuana is then sold in convenience stores, gas stations, head shops, and bodegas, as well as by individuals to uses who often believe they are legal and safe.

In some cases synthetic marijuana can have unpredictable and harmful effects, officials say.

“The Department reminds New Yorkers that naloxone can be an effective antidote for opioid overdose including synthetic opioids and should be used for any suspected overdose including incidents where it is reported the individual only used a synthetic cannabinoid, like K2 or Spice, or other pills or drugs including stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine,” officials said in a press release.

Two samples tested by the state Department of Health came in packaging labeled “Gorilla Glue Bags,” however officials in the department say synthetic cannabinoid products can be purchased in bulk and repackaged individually for consumer sale in a variety of packaging.

The Office of Drug User Health has four drug checking programs operated by state funded Drug User Health Hubs (DUHH) located in central New York, the Southern Tier, the Capital Region and Long Island. Drug checking is a consumer safety tool and part of the wider harm reduction strategy. As new substances continue to appear in the drug supply, the risk of overdose continues to rapidly increase.

“Given this ever-changing and unregulated landscape, it is essential to implement comprehensive drug checking services to better understand the local drug supply, improve drug user health overall, and ultimately reduce the risk of drug overdoses,” officials said in a press release.

For more information regarding the Drug Checking Program and accessing services, contact drug.checking@health.ny.gov.

For overdose prevention strategies and information, visit https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/general/opioid_overdose_prevention/.