Link to the Illinois Department of Public Health page on this subject here, and the U.S.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says 56 people have been hospitalized for severe bleeding after using the substance since about March 10th.
"Despite the perception that synthetic cannabinoids are safe and a legal alternative to marijuana, many are illegal and can cause severe illness", IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah said in a statement earlier this week. These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant.
As of Saturday, at least 38 people in the Chicago area and central IL had been hospitalized for severe bleeding after using synthetic marijuana. "However, synthetic cannabinoids are unregulated and identifying a source or sources is hard".
Synthetic cannabinoids are sold in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores and even online.
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"These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they act on the same brain cell receptors as the main active ingredient in marijuana", IDPH explained, warning that the drug's impact can be life-threatening.
The health effects of using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable, risky and possibly life-threatening because it's hard to know what's in them or how a person will be react to them.
"We strongly urge people not to use synthetic cannabinoids", she added, but she said that those who do use and then experience severe bleeding should be taken to the hospital for treatment.
There are now cases in at least eight Chicago-area communities including Cook County, Dupage County, Kane County, McLean County, Peoria County, Tazewell County and Will County. "Or if this is potentially a new side effect of a new synthetic cannabinoid".
From 2010 to 2015, the number of poisonings from toxic exposures surged across the United States, revealing 456 cases involving synthetic cannabinoids, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
People who smoke synthetic cannabinoids can have rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion and hallucinations, according to the CDC.
Health officials warn if you have purchased any of this product in the past month, do not use it.