IL reports third death linked to synthetic marijuana

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A 22-year-old IL man is dead after using synthetic marijuana laced with a chemical used in rat poison, according to a medical examiner's office. "Brodifacoum is a highly lethal rodenticide and should not be consumed".

The Illinois Department of Public Health, IDPH, is warning people about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, often called fake weed, K2, and spice, after six people who used synthetic cannabinoids suffered severe bleeding.

The reported death comes less than a week after IL officials reported an outbreak of 89 cases since March 7 of severe bleeding linked to contaminated drugs.

Health authorities are alerting health care providers to be on the looking for persistent and severe bleeding.

"This poisoning is unique in that its effects can last weeks to months", Dr. Jenny Lu, a toxicologist at John H. Stoger Jr.

"Seeing blood in their urine or they may be bleeding uncontrollably from their nose".

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Three men are being held without bail after being charged with selling synthetic marijuana that has been linked to at least two deaths.

Synthetic marijuana is extremely lucrative for retailers, who sell it illegally, said Cara Smith, chief policy officer with the Cook County sheriff's office.

Officials suspect use of synthetic marijuana might be linked to a third death in IL. "Even without symptoms, the blood's ability to clot is severely impaired and risk of bleeding is high".

The Department of Health Services says the so-called "fake weed" is unsafe and health effects from using these products can be life-threatening.

"K2 is one name, spice is another term, some people call this synthetic pot, synthetic marijuana, because they think it's a legal form of marijuana", Wells explained.

Synthetic cannabis is a man-made chemical compound created to act on the cannabinoid receptors and is sprayed onto plant material to mimic the real thing. The chemicals act on brain receptors and produce results similar to that of marijuana use, experts say.

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