The Slatest

20 Hospitalized in Mass Overdose in D.C.; Synthetic Marijuana Suspected

An ambulance outside the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
This is the second spike in overdoses in Washington this summer.
File photo/Karen Bleier/Getty Images

Authorities in Washington, D.C., have taken more than 20 people to the hospital in recent days due to suspected overdoses of K2, the synthetic marijuana. The Washington Post reported that medics “responded” to at least 40 people Wednesday and Thursday, including several who were passed out.

This recent spike in overdoses follows a series of large-scale hospitalizations both in D.C. and other cities in recent years. Over a week in July, D.C. firefighters “looked at 172 people and taken 122 of them to hospitals” due to suspected K2 overdoses, the Washington Post reported.

“[T]hese 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,” the Food and Drug Administration said in July. K2 is often sold in convenience stores or bodegas and can be, according to the FDA, “contaminated with brodifacoum, a very long-acting anticoagulant commonly used in rat poison.” The drug is illegal in some states, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has categorized some strains of it as Schedule I controlled substances.

New Haven authorities reported more than 100 calls in August for overdoses in one city park due to suspected K2 use, including more than 75 in one day. Earlier this week there were five suspected overdoses that resulted in hospitalizations in Brooklyn.