(AP News) A huge nationwide spike in hospitalizations last month caused by a class of drugs often called "synthetic marijuana" illustrates the potency and dangers of the chemicals used to make them and the shifty tactics authorities believe manufacturers are using to evade regulation.
Poison control centers nationwide reported 359 cases in January of illnesses from synthetic cannabinoids, which mimic the effects of the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana but can be far more potent. There were 273 in February and 269 in March. But the number skyrocketed to just over 1,500 in April, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
"This is the worst outbreak of drug abuse that I've lived through," said Dr. Steven Marcus, executive director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System at the New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers University, who has been monitoring the recent spike. "It's almost as if someone had made a witches' brew of these cannabinoids. This is not just powerful marijuana. This is really dangerous stuff that has effects that can be life-threatening."
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