San Antonio Officials Issue Warning About Synthetic Marijuana Batch

By Paul Gaita 02/08/17

The synthetic pot is reportedly far more potent than the varieties that can be purchased at convenience stores.

synthetic marijuana
Synthetic marijuana Photo via RT/YouTube

An increase in the number of emergency responses and hospital admittances over the past month has prompted health and fire department officials in San Antonio, Texas to issue a public warning over a particularly potent and dangerous form of synthetic marijuana on the city's streets.

At a press conference last week, Dr. David Miramontes, medical director for the San Antonio Fire Department (SAFD), urged residents to be aware of the variant, which is reportedly of a very high dosage and has caused users to become "psychotic, agitated and violent."

The synthetic pot is reportedly far more potent than the varieties that can be purchased at some convenience stores, which may catch some users unawares until after they have consumed a dangerous amount of the product.

"The symptom complex is similar, it’s just the dose is higher in this new product," said Miramontes, "so if you smoked enough of the convenience store stuff you could get into the dangerous mode, just like you could with this. But the problem is the high potency stuff is sneaking up on people and they are in trouble before they know it." 

The San Antonio Police Department has noted a rise in ambulance calls in recent weeks, with approximately 33% of calls related to the synthetic drug. Those numbers reflect a similar increase reported by the Center for Health Care Services, which admitted 105 people for synthetic marijuana use in December 2016, up from just 21 individuals the month before.

Among the side effects reported by first responders are disorientation, immobility, confusion, vomiting, kidney problems, and in some cases, psychotic behavior. Gina Seyfried, a family nurse practitioner with the Center for Health Care Services, says that patients have been "a lot more out of it, a lot more disoriented." In one case, she reported seeing an individual "that was down on his hands and knees barking like a dog, and then he tried to crawl up backwards on the wall with his feet."

Dr. Miramontes and SAFD Chief Charles Hood said that law enforcement is working to determine where the drugs are coming from. But in the meantime, they urged potential users and parents to be aware of the fake weed's presence and form—this particular synthetic variant has been offered as a pre-rolled cigarette—and to take appropriate measures.

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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.