Soteria Screening


Synthetic Marijuana Triggers an Overdose Epidemic in Brooklyn

You know you have a marijuana problem in your neighborhood when the local businesses are posting signs asking that people stop smoking it in their areas so that the ever-present clouds of smoke will finally dissipate.

That’s exactly what’s happening in Brooklyn, though the cause of the smoke is not actually marijuana as we know it, but a synthetic version of marijuana referred to, simply, as “K2” or “Spice.” Like krokodil, the flesh-eating codeine mixture, Spice comes with its own warnings in that users should avoid the drug due to its incredibly powerful effects, but those warnings have had little effect on Spice’s recent growth in popularity.

33 Spice users have recently been brought to hospitals in the Myrtle Avenue and Broadway area of Brooklyn as a result of overdosing on the powerful drug. Spice has been described as a sort of “zombie drug” due to the fact that its users tend to find themselves ambling about in a dazed stupor as if they were in a zombie movie.

Some think that because Spice is synthetic marijuana that they cannot become physically addicted to it, but the opposite is actually very much true. A user need only take Spice for a few weeks before finding themselves fighting a powerful addiction to it. Addiction to Spice has been compared to that of heroin or crack addiction in terms of how powerful it is to get off of the stuff.

While Spice may seem relatively new, it has actually been around for years; only now it seems to have had a resurgence among homeless communities, so much so that warnings about a public health crisis emerged last year - as did over 6,000 emergency room cases due to overdoses on the drug.

Thankfully, efforts to crack down on the drug have been a success. After legislation was passed last fall that banned synthetic forms of marijuana and that warned peddlers of the drug that they could face closings, fines, and even possibly jail time, officials were able to announce an 85 percent decrease in Spice-related emergency room patients as of this past May.

The battle isn’t over yet, though, as social service providers have pointed out that sellers of Spice haven’t closed up shop but have simply moved their shop to different parts of town. And being a resident in those parts of town can be a scary experience, as residents have reported that Spice users regularly leave their empty packages and used-up joints around public areas.

Not only that, but Spice users have been seen “tweaking out” out in the open, even going so far as to urinate or defecate in public. Residents are fearful both for themselves and for the children that live in the area that might accidentally become witness to this potentially frightening behavior, particularly because Spice users tend to loiter in one particular area in groups and use the drug for long periods of time, so it is very likely that those in the area will unfortunately suffer the effects of breathing in the second-hand smoke from the drug.