Illinois emergency rooms are topping synthetic pot-users suffering from "heavy bleeding," and state health officials are warning the public to stay alert. Illinois Health Ministry issued a statement Wednesday Announcing that at least six people in northeastern Illinois were hospitalized after receiving the artificial substance – also known as "false grass," "K2" or "spice." "- had used. On Friday, the number of cases climbed to 32, reported the Ministry of Health.
There are now cases in at least eight Chicago district communities including Cook County, Dupage County, Kane County, McLean County, Peoria County, Tazewell County and Will County. But the authorities believe the number will increase as it is possible that contaminated products have been sold throughout the state.
"Despite the perception that synthetic cannabinoids are safe and a legal alternative to marijuana, many are illegal and can cause serious illness," Director Nirav D. Shah said in a statement earlier this week. "Recent cases of heavy bleeding are evidence of the harm that synthetic cannabinoids can cause."
Synthetic pot consists of hundreds of different chemicals – and its effect on the human body is unpredictable.
"These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they act on the same receptors in the brain as the main active ingredient in marijuana," said IDPH, warning that the drug's effects may be life-threatening. "Synthetic cannabinoid products are unsafe, and it's difficult to know what's in them or what your response will be."
Users report a wide range of symptoms, from bleeding gums and bloody noses to blood in the urine. Women who menstruate have also experienced an above-average flow. Bleeding from the eyes and ears are also possible after use, said IDPH.
The bleeding that doctors have seen in recent days has been severe.
"This bleeding is not expected, at least in such a significant population." Melissa Millewich, an emergency physician from the Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, told the Chicago Tribune.
Health officials are pushing those who bought synthetic cannabinoid products within the past month – whether it was from a convenience store or retailer – to not use the product. IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold told the Chicago newspaper that the product is banned for sale throughout the state, but some manufacturers are changing the "molecular make-up of the products" to circumvent "the law."
Anyone who starts having symptoms including heavy bleeding or bruising should be taken to the hospital immediately, the IDPH said.