People are using synthetic marijuana as a safe way to get high but instead have had some alarming effects: bleeding from their ears and eyes.
"One of the chemicals that's tested positive in three of the cases is a lethal anti-coagulant", Arnold said.
The department didn't provide additional information about the two deaths, citing confidentiality.
"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.
The federal Centers for Disease Control noted that synthetic marijuana is often available from convenience stores or online, depending on the area, despite a federal ban on most products and local or state bans.
"The recent cases of severe bleeding are evidence of the harm synthetic cannabinoids can cause". Synthetic cannabinoids are found across IL and the U.S.in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, and online. Individuals have reported using a range of synthetic cannabinoid products, including K2, a notorious synthetic whose detrimental health effects have made headlines around the world.
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"There could be additional deaths coming; it is hard to say", she added.
Back in 2016, 33 people in Brooklyn died of a suspected overdose of K2.
According to a 2017 review of K2's synthetic cannabinoids, they are known to "produce a variety of risky acute and chronic adverse effects, including psychosis, seizures, tolerance, dependence, and death". They only fall under the same name as the active ingredient in real marijuana because the chemicals act on the same brain cell receptors as the main active ingredient in real marijuana.
One study of a synthetic cannabinoid found that it was 85 times as potent as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana.
Synthetic cannabinoids are used recreationally; they are not medical cannabis, said Sara Sparkman, communications manager for the Tazewell County Health Department.
"What's happening in IL is different, and these are bleeding complications". "It's often used as a rodenticide, or in rat poison".