Former synthetic marijuana user warns of risks

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DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) — It goes by many names: spice, K2, fake weed. But no matter what you call it, it is potent.

“[Synthetic marijuana was] a lot more intense than smoking real marijuana,” said a Decatur man who used the drug. “It came looking for me it seemed like.”

The man declined to be identified by WAND News. For narrative purposes, we’ll call him “Dan.”

Despite its intensity, synthetic cannabinoids are legal in some cases. Manufacturers keep changing the formula after it’s banned to keep it on convenience store shelves. Most packages can retail for around $10 to $20.

“It was easily accessible,” Dan said. “It wasn’t illegal so I didn’t have to worry about the cops.”

Dan used K2 for six years — finally quitting after the sickening side effects got the best of him.

“They made new chemicals,” he said. “When [the new formula] came out…I got sick off of it.”

Those side effects are getting even worse for current synthetic users.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is blaming synthetic cannabinoids for three deaths and 107 severe bleeding cases in the state — most of which are in the Chicago and Peoria metro areas.

The cause for the bleeding: drugs laced with a chemical often used in rat poison. Brodifacoum thins the blood and prevents it from clotting. Too much of it causes users to bleed from the inside out.

“[Synthetics and marijuana are] just like fentanyl and heroin,” Dan said. “It’s killing people worse than the [original drug] was.”

A dangerous high that scared this former user away for good.

“It’s crazy and it’s scary,” Dan said. “I don’t want to go back to it and never will go back to it.”

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