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Fake pot suspected of sickening 3

By Staff | Dec 31, 2010

Three more teens in Cape Coral apparently had a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana, according to officials.
Police responded to a medical call Tuesday at a home in the 3800 block of Agualinda Boulevard. Three girls, all students at Ida S. Baker High School, told the officers that they had vomited after ingesting marijuana. They obtained the drug from a fellow student at school, a police report states.
The teens also “had complaints of being very nervous.”
Parents for all the girls were contacted, according to the report. One girl was transported by Lee County EMS and another teen was taken to the hospital by a parent. The third teen was released to a parent.
“We have no additional information on it,” Capt. Lisa Barnes, of the Cape Coral Police Department, said Thursday.
Synthetic marijuana is made up of synthetic chemical compounds that are sprayed on a substance like a legal herbal mixture and baked. The compounds were initially created for research and were never intended for consumption.
Imported from countries like China, India and Korea, the products are sold as incense but are smoked to achieve a “high.” Adverse side effects can include pain attacks, heart palpitations, hallucinations, delusions, vomiting, increased agitation and dilated pupils.
Dr. Timothy Dougherty, medical director of Cape Coral Hospital’s emergency department and a toxicologist, said Tuesday’s incident sounds like it involved synthetic marijuana. He explained that traditional marijuana reportedly curbs nausea, which is why some support using it for medicinal purposes.
“It would have been kind of unusual for this to be regular marijuana,” he said.
Since October, three Cape Coral teens in two separate incidents have been treated at the hospital after using synthetic marijuana. All three were later released. According to Dougherty, the hospital first identified the concern earlier in the year when a man in his early 20s had to be treated.
A “significant case,” the man was set up in the Intensive Care Unit.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration put in place an emergency ban on synthetic marijuana products nationwide. Under the ban, possessing or selling five chemicals used to make “fake pot” — or the products that contain the chemicals — is illegal for at least one year while studies are conducted.
Dougherty said businesses have until today to stop selling the products.
Prior to that, the products were banned in 13 states — Florida is not one.
Interim Cape Coral Police Chief Jay Murphy, speaking on behalf of the law enforcement agencies within the 20th Judicial Circuit, recently asked that state legislators consider banning synthetic marijuana products in Florida.
District 21 Sen. Mike Bennett indicted that legislation is being created.
He said the problem lawmakers are encountering is in the definition of the law. Bennett explained that banning one product today would not cover a new product with a different name next year, so legislators are waiting on the federal government to give them more clarification on the substances.