Synthetic marijuana: Worse for kids than the real thing?

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As you may have heard, 21-and-over adults can legally use and possess small amounts of marijuana in Colorado. But plenty of folks, including ones of age, continue to use incense typically marked "not for human consumption" as synthetic marijuana, with as many as 150 illnesses linked to the substance, popularly known as Spice.

Look below to get info from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and see graphics depicting some of the brands cited in a CDPHE warning.

As of last week, according to a CDPHE release on view below in its entirety, around 150 emergency room patient visits have been documented, with just over a third of the cases -- 58 -- generating detailed analysis. Surprisingly, only 19 percent of them pertain to individuals between thirteen and nineteen years old, while 44 percent of such alleged users fall into the 20-29 demographic.

However, smoking the stuff seems to be a dude thing: 81 percent of the patients cited by the CDPHE were male. Their symptoms during their hospital trips are said to have included "disorientation, delirium, confusion, anxiety, lethargy, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and seizures." Some were violent; others were comatose.

Among the brands mentioned by the department are Black Mamba....

...Crazy Clown.... ...Dead Man Walking.... ...plus the simian triumvirate of Sex Monkey.... ...Funky Monkey.... ...and Crazy Monkey: No, doctors don't suggest that users would be better off smoking good old-fashioned marijuana instead of Spice. But a May study about the accidental ingestion of marijuana edibles focused on the danger to children, not adults -- whereas Spice is portrayed as being problematic for just about everyone.

Here's the aforementioned release.

Several synthetic marijuana products identified as possible source of illness

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's initial investigation of an outbreak of illnesses tied to use of synthetic marijuana has identified nearly a dozen product names as possible sources of the synthetic marijuana that sent dozens to hospitals beginning in August.

Dr. Tista Ghosh, interim chief medical officer for the state, said, "While these products were identified in the investigation, synthetic marijuana products can be repackaged and sold under many names. The safe thing for people to do is not use any synthetic marijuana. No brand is safe."

Product names identified in the investigation are: Black Mamba, Crazy Monkey, Crazy Clown, Dead Man Walking, Funky Monkey, Sexy Monkey, SinX, Spice, TenX, Twilight and 3X.

Patients being interviewed as part of this outbreak include those who were suffering one or more symptoms such as disorientation, delirium, confusion, anxiety, lethargy, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and seizures, as well as some patients who were violent, unresponsive or even comatose.

As of Sept. 10, approximately 150 emergency department patient encounters potentially associated with synthetic marijuana use have been reported. As part of the initial investigation, 58 detailed patient chart reviews have been completed for patients from five different hospitals. Among patients in the initial chart review, the age range is 13-55 years old. Forty-four percent of reported patients are 20-29 years old and another 19 percent are 13-19 years old. Approximately 81 percent of the patients are male.

Dr. Ghosh said, "With one patient as young as 13 years old, I would urge parents and teachers to please talk to teenagers about drugs like these. The education community, including middle and high schools, universities, and technical colleges should spread the word to their students, given the affected age groups we are seeing. Let them know that synthetic marijuana is not safe and can seriously hurt them."

The department is continues to receive reports of new cases daily, and the investigation is far from complete. At this point, all reported patient encounters are from the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs.

As the investigation proceeds, the department will work to identify the specific chemical make-up of the products that have caused adverse health reactions. Necessary laboratory testing will take weeks.

No additional information is available about the three deaths being investigated as part of this outbreak.

More from our Marijuana archive circa May: "Marijuana edibles study: More toddlers are accidentally eating them, getting sick."

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