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Colorado, CDC to probe whether synthetic marijuana is tied to deaths

September 06, 2013|By Michael Muskal
  • A Denver woman smokes marijuana on the official opening night of Club 64, a marijuana-specific social club. Synthetic marijuana has been linked to illnesses and at least three deaths, Colorado health officials said.
A Denver woman smokes marijuana on the official opening night of Club 64,… (Brennan Linsley / Associated…)

Colorado and federal officials are investigating whether about 75 hospital cases, including three deaths, are connected to the use of synthetic marijuana.

In a news release, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said on Friday that it is teaming with local hospitals and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to explore whether the patients were sickened by the same product.

“Initial reports show approximately 75 people who reported smoking a form of synthetic marijuana may have been seen at hospitals in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs beginning in late August. Several individuals were in intensive care and three deaths are being investigated as possibly associated,” said Dr. Tista Ghosh, interim chief medical officer for the state.

“Don't wait for the results of this investigation. If you have synthetic marijuana, stop using it and destroy it,” Ghosh said in the statement.

The CDC will send four people to assist in the inquiry, the state said.

Synthetic marijuana is usually some form of dried herb sprayed with chemicals to imitate the effects of marijuana. The drugs are illegal under federal and state law so their contents are unknown, but potentially dangerous.

The material is known on the street by many names including Black Mamba, Monkey Spice, K2, Twilight, Spice and Herbal Incense. No single product has been identified as the source of these illnesses, the statement said.

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