The dangers of synthetic marijuana have been in the news with more frequency. Most recently there was a mass overdose in New York that led to several people being hospitalized. Now in the city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a new brand is taking its toll on users. Health officials in the city have issued a warning for the product called Darkness that has been linked to at least 20 overdose cases.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico says Darkness users overdosed over the course of two days last week in the Harrisburg area. Hospitals caring for the patients have described symptoms that included advanced stages of delirium and agitation. In at least one case, a user had to be revived and was moved to the intensive care unit.
Synthetic marijuana has become very popular among young teens and adults because it can be purchased over the counter for as little as $5 for small packets. The product is also sold under the names Dank, Spice, AK-47, and other descriptive titles. The drug is not natural and is often some type of plant material sprayed with chemicals or packets of a crystal powder that can be smoked or sprinkled on tobacco. The drug is a mixture of various substances that are designed to bind to the receptors in the brain that are stimulated by THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that causes a high. However, there is no set standard on the potency of synthetic marijuana and users can suffer extreme anxiety, confusion, paranoia and hallucinations. It is estimated that since 2015 in New York City alone, at least 6,000 people went to emergency rooms suffering from the effects of the drug and at least two people were confirmed dead from overdose synthetic marijuana.
Law enforcement and health officials in Pennsylvania suspect some chemical or other substance may have been added to the synthetic pot.