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Public Health Advisory: Dangerous Synthetic Drug Use Leading to Overdoses

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Contact: LaToya Foster (EOM) – (202) 727-5011

(Washington, DC) – In recent weeks, District government agencies have seen a dangerous spike in overdoses as a result of the use of synthetic drugs. The spike has led to dozens of individuals being transported to area hospitals in the last month, including nearly a dozen transports yesterday. It is likely that additional overdoses have gone unreported or untreated.

"Synthetic drugs are illegal and dangerous," said Mayor Muriel Bowser. "These drugs present a clear danger to the public. My Administration is committed to working with all relevant government agencies, residents, community organizations and the Council to crack down on the distribution and consumption of these dangerous synthetic drugs."

Synthetic marijuana is a potent and dangerous hallucinogen that has been found for sale at retail establishments, including liquor stores and gas stations. The products are commonly referred to as K2, Scooby Snax, Bizzaro or Spice. While the chemical composition and branding of the drugs changes constantly, the dangers remain constant. Use of these drugs by young people is particularly dangerous. 

The effects of consuming these products include an altered mental state, anxiety, paranoia, irregular heartbeat, seizures and death. These drugs can render a person to be incoherent, disorderly, aggressive and unconscious.

Residents in the District who are concerned about a person who may be using synthetic marijuana, should call the Department of Behavioral Health's 24-7 Access Helpline at 1 (888) 793-4357. Call 911 if you encounter someone who appears to be overdosing from the drug. More information about synthetic marijuana and its harmful effects can be found at www.k2zombiedc.com. Anyone with information about the illegal sale of these drugs is asked to call the Metropolitan Police Department at (202) 727-9099. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department's TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.

In April 2014, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) passed regulations that allow the District to revoke business licenses of establishments that sell or possess synthetic drugs based on the packaging, pricing, location and labeling of the products.