Synthetic Cannabinoid Warning

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LCHD 2017

For Immediate Release
Date: April 6, 2018
Contact: Brian Louie
(847) 377-8356

Synthetic Cannabinoid Warning


Waukegan, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Lake County Health Department are urging people to not use synthetic cannabinoids, often called Spice, K2, or fake weed.  Dozens of people in Illinois, including two who died, have experienced severe bleeding, such as coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody nose, and/or bleeding gums, after using synthetic cannabinoids.  Several of these cases have tested positive for brodifacoum, a lethal anticoagulant often used as a rodenticide, or rat poison.

“The number of people experiencing severe bleeding after using synthetic cannabinoids is still increasing,” said Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister.  “We will work with state and federal public health officials to try to identify common products and where they are coming from.  We strongly urge everyone to not use synthetic cannabinoids.”

Since March 7, 2018, the IDPH has received reports of 89 cases, including two deaths, linked to an outbreak.  There are currently no confirmed cases in Lake County.  The number of cases and counties of residence are updated on the IDPH website at 1:30 p.m. each weekday.

Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made, mind-altering chemicals that are sprayed on to dried plant material.  They can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized in e-cigarettes and other devices.  These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant.  The health effects from using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable, harmful, and deadly.

Public health officials continue to investigate to try to identify any common brand and determine where they were obtained.  Synthetic cannabinoids are found across Illinois and the U.S. in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, and online.

Anyone who has a reaction to synthetic cannabinoids, such as severe bleeding, should call 911 or have someone take them to their local emergency department immediately.


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LCHD logo 2017

Lake County Health Department
3010 Grand Avenue
Waukegan, Illinois 60085
(847) 377-8000