Two Illinois Deaths Linked to Fake Weed

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The numbers of those affected by the fake marijuana are reportedly increasing as officials noted that more and more people are being taken to the hospital with symptoms such as "coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody nose, and/or bleeding gums", the health department said in a statement.

The Illinois Department of Public Health warns that synthetic marijuana is far from a safe alternative to the natural drug.

IDPH director Nirav D Shah said: "Synthetic cannabinoids are unsafe".

"It is hard to know what's in them or what your reaction to them will be". If you have used the product and start experiencing severe, unexplained bleeding or bruising, or any reaction to using a synthetic cannabinoid, you should call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately, according to IDPH.

The owner of a Chicago convenience store and two employees have been charged with selling synthetic marijuana that has been linked to two deaths.

In Illinois, 17 cases have been reported in the Chicago area since March 7, followed by 14 cases in Peoria County and 12 cases in Tazewell County, according to the most recent data from the state health department.

Shah said state health officials are working with local health departments as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify the products, but "without more information, IDPH does not know how much contaminated product is circulating or where".

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'Our investigation is ongoing, but individuals report using many different product names, ' IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold told Daily Mail Online. Don't be fooled-they're not the same as marijuana.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2016 found that one of these chemically altered synthetic cannabinoids was 85 times as potent as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana.

Anyone who has purchased these products is warned not to use it. So why would anyone use them? The products, which have been around for years, can be smoked or vaporized in e-cigarettes and are commonly sold in convenience stores, gas stations and drug paraphernalia shops across the United States. And they cost about $10 a packet, Arwady said.

This is the first time that severe bleeding has been associated with the drugs known as cannabinoids, a mix of hundreds of chemicals that act on the same brain cell receptors as the active ingredient in marijuana.

Fouad Masoud, 48, Jamil Abdelrahman Jad Allah, 44, and Adil Khan Mohammed, 44, were charged with controlled substance distribution after officials said they found a large amount of synthetic pot laced with the toxic substance, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"They're not regulated", Arwady said. One of the men accused made an initial court appearance and remains in federal custody until a hearing on Thursday.

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