FDA Warns Of Synthetic Marijuana Laced With Rat Poison

By Keri Blakinger 07/23/18

The warning comes amid a wave of synthetic marijuana overdoses. 

synthetic marijuana
Photo via YouTube

The FDA warned this week about the ongoing danger of synthetic cannabis laced with rat poison, floating concerns that the tainted drug could pose a threat to the nation’s blood supply. 

Poisoned supplies of the drug have already accounted for several deaths and sent hundreds of users to the hospital this year with severe bleeding or seizures, officials said. 

Concern about contaminated drug stashes comes amid an ongoing effort to stamp out the use of the cannabis copycat often sold illegally in convenience stores and corner markets. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised a red flag about the risks of rat poison-laced supplies earlier this year

“Despite our efforts, certain entities continue to bypass state and federal drug laws by making and distributing these products—often marked or labeled as ‘not for human consumption’—and changing the structure of the synthetic chemicals to try to skirt legal requirements,” the FDA wrote in its release

But the real danger in recent months, the agency claimed, is that K2 makers have begun adding in brodifacoum—an anticoagulant used in rat poison—in an effort to prolong the high. 

The presence of that chemical can pose other health risks, including severe bleeding. Hundreds of users across 10 Midwestern states have been hospitalized in recent months as a result of complications stemming from the presence of brodifacoum, the agency said. 

“Today, we’re joining together to send a strong warning to anyone who may use synthetic marijuana products that these products can be especially dangerous as a result of the seemingly deliberate use of brodifacoum in these illegal products,” the agency wrote in a release Thursday. 

Aside from the risk to users, the agency also highlighted the threat to the blood supply. 

“The FDA has received several reports of donors who used synthetic cannabinoids contaminated with brodifacoum. Because of its long half-life, the bleeding risk from brodifacoum, which prevents vitamin K from being reused within the body, can persist for weeks,” the agency wrote.

“Given the known and unknown risks associated with these synthetic cannabinoid products, the FDA urges individuals to avoid using them, especially since there’s no way of telling which synthetic marijuana products have been contaminated with the powerful anticoagulant brodifacoum.” 

The agency vowed to continue monitoring the situation, along with the CDC and DEA.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.