Three arrested in synthetic pot investigation in Chicago

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The Illinois Department of Public Health is looking to find the source of the synthetic marijuana that's sickened dozens, and now suspected of killing one Peoria man.

Two people have now been reported dead among dozens of cases of synthetic marijuana users who've turned up to IL hospitals in recent weeks complaining of severe bleeding. "We've seen some severe bloody noses, people coughing up blood, blood in the urine".

"We continue to see the number of cases rise", said Nirav D. Shah, IDPH director. These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant, however their effects on health can be unpredictable, harmful, and even deadly.

Now, at least one person in IL has died from K2, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In the past few years, doctors have become familiar with the health outcomes people can face when they are exposed to synthetic cannabinoids, said Dr. Patrick Lank, an emergency physician and assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in IL.

Multiple people recently experienced adverse symptoms, including unusual bleeding, after using synthetic cannabinoids obtained from the store, according to the complaint.

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'Because these products are not regulated, it's hard to know the chemical make-up, source and distribution'. The men, 48-year-old Fouad Masoud, 44-year-old Jamil Jad Allah and 44-year-old Adil Mohammed, were arrested on Sunday and charged with federal drug offenses for conspiring to sell synthetic marijuana, known as K2, at King Mini Mart in the 1300-block of South Kedzie Avenue.

"If you use synthetic drugs, you're playing Russian roulette with your life", Smith said. The products, which have been around for years, can be smoked or vaporized in e-cigarettes and are commonly sold in convenience stores, gas stations and drug paraphernalia shops across the United States. There have been 56 cases in the state, including 17 in Chicago and five in Cook County.

The health effects of using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable, risky and possibly life-threatening because it's hard to know what's in them or how a person will be react to them.

The number of acute poisonings from synthetic cannabinoids rose sharply between 2010 and 2015, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016.

One study of a synthetic cannabinoid found that it was 85 times as potent as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana.

Anyone who has purchased these products is warned not to use it. Tell your health care providers about the possible link between your symptoms and synthetic cannabinoid use.

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