More than a dozen people in New York City were hospitalized after using synthetic marijuana over the last few days, officials said.
The city’s health department said that 15 people were hospitalized since Thursday with “severe adverse reactions” to the drugs, which are known by names like "K2" and "Spice." All of the victims hospitalized in that span lived in Harlem and Chelsea.
The agency warned people to steer clear of the group of drugs, which can cause hallucinations and seizures.
“K2, Spice, Green Giant – no matter what you call it, synthetic cannabinoids are dangerous and illegal,” Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said. “I urge people not to use these products, which have caused a huge spike in emergency room visits this year.”
The Health Department says ER visits for drug reactions have more than doubled so far this year compared with the same time period last year.
Synthetic marijuana products, designed to mimic the effects of real pot, were sold legally in stores earlier this decade labeled as incense or potpourri, but they were banned by the federal government in 2012.
Health officials are asking anyone with information on the sale of the designer drugs to call 311.