Synthetic marijuana has sent 160 people to hospitals in New York state since April 8, a spike that prompted authorities to warn Friday that the drug is dangerous and illegal, the Wall Street Journal reports. Synthetic pot is known by “spice,” ''K2,” ''green giant” and other street names. Statewide, poison control center calls stemming from synthetic marijuana have risen dramatically, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “Synthetic drugs are anything but harmless, and this rash of severe health emergencies across the state is direct proof,” he said.
Other states have expressed concern. Alabama public health officials said nearly 100 people had been hospitalized for problems linked to synthetic marijuana within the past month. Police in Hampton, Va., said one person died and two others were hospitalized after synthetic marijuana overdoses last weekend. In February, 40 state attorneys general signed a letter asking oil companies to make sure gas station convenience stores don't sell synthetic drugs. In New York City, the Health Department is issuing reminders to stores that it is illegal to sell synthetic marijuana. Synthetic marijuana consists of dried vegetation coated with chemicals that are supposed to mimic the effects of pot. Some users report that it produces a marijuana-like high, but others experience extreme anxiety, hallucinations, a rapid heart rate, vomiting and other symptoms, said the federal National Institute on Drug Abuse.