DENVER (CBS4) – Synthetic marijuana has sent 75 people to the hospital in the Denver metro area in the past few weeks and at least three people may have died from the drug.
The Centers for Disease Control has come to Colorado to investigate the situation. They say Colorado has become a major distributor in the U.S. and they believe there could be hundreds of labs in the state.
“At least some if not all of it was coming out of Colorado,” DEA spokeswoman Barbara Roach said.
The DEA’s office says the new compound has been found at times to be up to 800 times more powerful than the THC potency level in marijuana.
Roach said males between the ages of 12 and 30 are most likely to use the drug. But the search for a greater high can be “extremely dangerous.”
“There’s violence, there’s almost a PCP-like reaction to it, in many cases paranoia,” Roach said.
The drug, which is also known as black mamba or spice, is shipped in powder form to the U.S. from China and Europe. It is then mixed in a liquid and sprayed on potpourri leaves to smoke.
Roach said the packaging “looks very professional.”
The DEA says it is making progress in its effort to find distributors here.
“It’s more dangerous and more potent than what we’ve seen in the past, and people are getting sicker,” Dr. Kennon Heard from University Hospital said.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control said anyone who has the drug should destroy it.