UK Synthetic Drug Linked to Several Deaths

By Paul Gaita 01/23/15

The synthetic cannabinoid CHMINACA has been responsible for a number of hospitalizations and deaths.

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Authorities on the Bailiwick of Jersey are alerting residents to the presence of a “psychoactive" drug that is linked to hospitalizations and even deaths in several European countries.

The synthetic cannabinoid, called CHMICA or CHMINACA, has turned up in the Channel Island’s drug trade, and has raised concerns over its potency and potential for causing physical harm.

A spokesperson for area police and the Alcohol and Drug Service stated that the drug has “similar effects to cannabis, but is 100 times stronger,” and can cause a range of side effects, including convulsions, increased blood pressure, and even psychosis. The spokesperson added that while “there are currently no deaths or hospitalizations in Jersey due to the drug, it is important to raise awareness that it is circulating.”

CHMINACA has been banned in the United States since December 2014 due to its inclusion in several synthetic cannabinoids that resulted in numerous emergency room admissions and four deaths. Use of synthetic drugs in the UK and throughout Europe has risen sharply since 2009, and has resulted in numerous medical emergencies.

Alcohol and Drug Service director Michael Gafoor has advised individuals who have considered using one of the numerous brands of synthetic drugs to avoid using it alone or mixing it with other substances and to seek immediate attention if feeling any adverse effects.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.