synthetic marijuana nyc City officials said 15 residents of East Harlem, Central Harlem and Chelsea appeared at local hospitals over the weekend with symptoms typical associated with synthetic cannabinoids.
Credit: Wendy Galietta/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Almost two dozen people were rushed to Manhattan emergency rooms since Friday for possible negative reactions to synthetic marijuana products.

City officials said 15 residents of East Harlem, Central Harlem and Chelsea appeared at local hospitals over the weekend with symptoms typical associated with synthetic cannabinoids.

 

Illegal in New York State since 2012, the Health Department said on Sunday that it had seen a 220 percent spoke in ER visits related to the synthetic drug in 2014 alone.

"K2, Spice, Green Giant – no matter what you call it, synthetic cannabinoids are dangerous and illegal," Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement. "I urge people not to use these products, which have caused a huge spike in emergency room visits this year."

Designed to mimic the effects of marijuana, the potpourri-looking substance is also linked to rapid heart rate, vomiting and seizers, as well as kidney failure and increased blood pressure.

Officials said there's no antidote to counter any effects, which can last between 1 and two hours, as the ingredients change frequently. But the drug carries more than just health consequences.

On top of potential federal charges, criminal penalties for possession of synthetic pot can include a fine of up to $500 and or as many as 15 days in jail. Civil penalties can also include fines of up to $2,000 for each violation.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria

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