Since March, Wisconsin health authorities has seen 54 cases (40 confirmed and 14 probable) of severe bleeding following the use of synthetic cannabinoids, often called “fake weed,” “K2,” and “Spice.”

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

This includes eight cases reported in just the past two weeks–“There have been eight new cases in the last two weeks,” said State Health Officer Karen McKeown. “We strongly urge people to stop using these drugs. If you or someone you know has a serious reaction to synthetic cannabinoids, call 911 or go to the emergency department right away.”

Counties with confirmed cases include Dane, Milwaukee, Outagamie, and Rock.

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The bleeding occurs as these products contain rat poison (brodifacoum). Synthetic cannabinoid products are not legal in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is not alone. Since March, Illinois, Maryland, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia have reported cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says synthetic cannabinoids are not one drug. Hundreds of different synthetic cannabinoid chemicals are manufactured and sold. New ones with unknown health risks become available each year. Synthetic cannabinoids are popular because users often believe they are legal and relatively safe.

In addition to nicknames like K2 and Spice, it is also called AK-47, Mr. Happy, Scooby Snax, Kush and Kronic, among others.