Mass K2 Overdose In Brooklyn Hospitalizes Dozens

By McCarton Ackerman 07/15/16

In response to the hospitalization, law enforcement officials conducted surprise inspections at dozens of stores in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. 

Mass K2 Overdose In Brooklyn Hospitalizes Dozens

Synthetic pot is far more dangerous than the real thing. Thirty-three people were rushed to the hospital in Brooklyn, New York this week in a mass drug overdose.

Fox News reported that the wave of overdoses occurred on Tuesday in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Although it’s unclear if all of the overdoses were linked exclusively to K2, police confirmed several of the victims had smoked it. Witnesses reported seeing victims shaking and leaning against trees or lying on the sidewalk.

"We remind New Yorkers that K2 is extremely dangerous," said the New York City Health Department in a statement. "The city's public awareness efforts and aggressive enforcement actions over the past year have contributed to a significant decline in ER visits related to K2." It added that several of the chemicals in K2, which are made in laboratories and are especially dangerous, are not derived from the marijuana plant.

In response, local law enforcement officials conducted surprise inspections at several stores in the neighborhood near the site where the overdoses occurred. Although no K2 was found, three people were arrested on unrelated charges, according to Eyewitness News. Local outreach specialists and organizations, such as the After Hours Project, are working to identify K2 users and help get them either into detox or rehab.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he would continue fighting the area’s K2 epidemic with law enforcement, education and civil enforcement against those who sell the drug. He vowed that “K2 is not going to take control of our community the way heroin and crack did in later years.”

Although traditional marijuana is viewed by many as physically non-addictive, the same can’t be said for synthetic marijuana.

“I know people that have quit dope to smoke K2,” a local K2 user told Eyewitness News. “That’s how bad this drug really is—and addictive. And you get sick when you don’t smoke it.”

Use of the drug has been a long-standing issue in Bedford-Stuyvesant and neighboring Bushwick. DNAinfo reported in May 2015 that Manhattan emergency rooms tracked more than 100 visits from K2-related problems in a single week. In the months prior to the spike in hospitalizations, just two or three people were hospitalized for K2 on average. 

“I’ve lived here for more than 20 years, and it’s terrible now,” said an anonymous local. “It’s an epidemic, every borough, every ‘hood. Just look at the people on the corner, they look like zombies.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.