Synthetic marijuana blamed for a "dozen or more" overdoses in Columbia

4 months 1 week 1 day ago Wednesday, November 07 2018 Nov 7, 2018 Wednesday, November 07, 2018 9:07:00 PM CST November 07, 2018 in News
By: Annie Hammock, KOMU 8 Interactive Director and Monica Harkins, KOMU 8 Digital Producer, McKenna Alexander, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - Columbia police, fire and EMS personnel responded to at least a dozen overdoses involving synthetic marijuana Wednesday.

K2 has regularly showed up in Columbia, but never at this volume, Columbia Police Department said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

CPD sent a tweet saying, "We do not know the source or makeup of the K2. Users must beware. Dangerous stuff."

CPD also said K2 has been manufactured in Columbia before, but at this time it is unknown if this batch originated in Columbia.

In a later news release, CPD said, "Law enforcement officials stress that it appears a batch of K2 in the Columbia area may be laced with unknown drugs or poisons. If you know someone who uses K2, urge them to stop and seek treatment."

K2 often includes an ingredient found in rat poison, according to an FDA health alert earlier this year. The CPD said it can be laced with fentanyl and other drugs.

The FDA said, "These products have been known to be associated with adverse effects including rapid heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior and suicidal thoughts, and an increase in blood pressure, as well as causing reduced blood supply to the heart, kidney damage, and seizures."

K2, sometimes known as spice, can be fatal, but so far no one has died in the recent string of overdoses in Columbia, police said.

CPD said some of Wednesday's cases came in rapid succession.

"Between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., five or more overdoses occurred in a concentrated area on Wilkes Boulevard near Seventh Street. Other overdoses appear to be occurring in and around extended stay motels," police said.

Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services is working with advocates for the homeless to connect with high risk population in areas where they take shelter, the CPD said. 

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the most current information.)

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