DENVER (CBS4) – A federal report was released Thursday on the synthetic drug that likely made more than 200 people sick.
The investigation into synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as “spice,” began with an alarming number of ER cases and possible deaths.
The full scope of the problem is still not totally known, but it appears three deaths may be associated with spice.
In late August waves of victims poured into emergency rooms in Colorado, with many needing intensive care.
Dr. Tista Ghosh led the investigation for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“We asked emergency department’s to report to us anybody who they suspected spice use, so that could be somebody that came in completely comatosed and they found a bag of spice on them or it could be somebody who was violent and agitated,” Ghosh said.
According to the CDPHE, there were more than 220 emergency room cases in Colorado.
The CDC investigation found the drug victims took was laced with the chemical compound ADB-PINACA, a synthetic cannabinoid believed to come from Asia. So little is known about the compound that American researchers are still developing tests to know how poisonous it is.
Ghosh says it could still claim more victims.
“This new chemical could still be out on the street and there could be a new one out on the street tomorrow,” she said.
Spice was sold under nearly a dozen different labels, but they all come from the same source.
Earlier this year a CBS4 producer using a hidden camera bought spice over the counter of a shop. That store and another Colorado store believed to have been selling the drug has closed.
Strict laws ban all forms of synthetic marijuana in Colorado, but in other states dealers stay ahead of the law by rapidly changing the drug’s formula, making it nearly impossible to track.
The CDC says there were also eight reported cases in Georgia, but with no way to easy test for the drug, doctors say there may be victims across the country.
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