A new report from the Illinois Department of Public Health yesterday revealed an increase in the number of people treated for severe bleeding from the eyes and nose after smoking synthetic pot, commonly referred to as K2 or spice, to 89 individuals.
Dr. Tom Britton, President and CEO of the Gateway Foundation, describes why the resurgence of synthetic pot on the streets of Illinois is both a professional problem and a personal concern.
“You know, as a father, it scares me, I think, and I really take it personally. So this is a substance that, historically, was sold over the counter. It was legal, and was restricted by the federal government to make it illegal to sell. And they just kept changing the formula so they could make it available. It’s made a comeback, and recently there was some that became available and there were two youths that died in your area from smoking a version of this that they turned out to find out it had rat poisoning. And so it caused seizures and bleeding and, ultimately, death. And there’s been seventy-plus kids that have been treated in emergency departments. So this is really a terrifying thing that parents need to talk to their kids about.”
The two deaths Dr. Britton referred to occurred in Peoria and Tazewell counties.
Dr. Britton maintains the idea that synthetic pot cannot be considered to be the same thing as conventional cannabis.
“It’s important to understand that it’s not marijuana in any way. It’s really just kind of a leafy substance that they put chemicals on that make the person feel high. One of the things they were putting on earlier batches was formaldehyde. They put terrible stuff on there. So the challenge you have with anything you buy off the street is that you really are subject to whoever handled it before you got it. That’s true with heroin or cocaine or the spice or anything, is that you literally don’t know what it is.”
To hear more from Dr. Britton about the dangers of street drugs and, counter-actively, the work he and his staff at the Gateway Foundation are continuing to do, listen to the full interview with Dr. Britton under the What’s On Your Mind tab at WLDS/WEAI.com