Public health officials in the Northwest are raising concerns about a relatively new type of synthetic marijuana that’s been linked to a series of kidney failure cases in the region.
The synthetic marijuana is sold under several street names including "spice" and "K2." It's made of a variety of plant material that's sprayed with a chemical meant to mimic the active substance in marijuana. Synthetic marijuana is banned under state and federal law.
Now, public health officials have linked its use to a series of kidney failure cases in Oregon and Washington.
"We are trying to make people aware that these designer drugs as they're called are not only illegal, but they can be highly dangerous," says Katrina Hedberg, the Oregon state epidemiologist. "And that once you have kidney damage, it may be longer term health effects from that."
Hedberg says of the six recent kidney failures linked to synthetic marijuana, five of the victims were under the age of 18. She says state health labs are analyzing samples of the drug to find the specific toxin that's causing the kidney problems.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network
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Drug facts: Spice (NIH)