ALBANY, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – The New York State Department of Health issued a warning on Tuesday, September 19 that synthetic marijuana sold in the Mohawk Valley has been found to contain opioids.
The office of Drug User Health’s lab toxicology tests confirmed that two samples of synthetic marijuana, often known as K2 and Spice – among other names – were contaminated with five Novel Psychoactive Substances, including two potent synthetic opioids.
Synthetic marijuana is a chemical mixture used to mimic THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in naturally-grown marijuana. They are mostly sold in many locations, including convenience stores and gas stations. However, many of them are illegal and have unpredictable and harmful effects.
“Synthetic cannabinoids should never be confused for legally sold cannabis,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “These synthetic cannabinoids often contain harmful substances, that have a range of effects from euphoria to causing extreme anxiety, disorientation, hallucinations, and psychosis. However, it is rare to find opioids in the product and this new addition can cause overdose or even death. If you witness someone experiencing an overdose, treat it as an opioid overdose and administer naloxone as soon as possible.”
The two contaminated products that were tested by the Department of Health were found to be in packaging labeled “Gorilla Glue Bags” and were distributed in convenience stores across the Mohawk Valley. However, because synthetic cannabis can be purchased in bulk and repackaged individually for customer sale, the warning is not limited to the “Gorilla Glue Bags” novel.
“The detection of opioids in illegal synthetic cannabinoids sold commercially in Oneida County is a stark reminder that it is never safe to use these products,” Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said in a statement. “The Oneida County Opioid Task Force will continue to work hand-in-hand with our partners, including the New York State Department of Health, to combat the opioid crisis from every angle and leave no stone unturned in raising awareness of any dangers to the public.”
The Department of Health also reminded New Yorkers that naxolone, or Narcan, can be an effective antidote for overdoses, including opioid and synthetic marijuana overdoses. Narcan is also available by mail through the Oneida County Health Department by visiting the Oneida County Opioid Task Force website at www.ocopioidtaskforce.org.
Free, anonymous, 24/7 access to naloxone, fentanyl test strips and other wellness supplies are also available at the Public Health kiosk at the Giotto Center on Oswego Street in Utica.