Warning From Poison Control: Synthetic Marijuana Can Kill

Inside the call center at the North Texas Poison Center at Parkland Memorial Hospital, toxicologists like Dr. Sarah Shafer are ready to help.

"Hopefully, we can get them to a point where they're not under any danger," Shafer said.

However, when it comes to K2 – the common name for synthetic marijuana – she says anything is possible because the designer drug is unpredictable and could be growing in potency.

Many ingredients of K2 are illegal in Texas, but designer drug makers are constantly changing their formulas.

A new batch of synthetic marijuana on the market now may be some of the most powerful yet.

Shafer said taking a single dose is like playing a game of Russian roulette.

"You're really gambling when you're taking these because you don't know how much you're taking, you don't know what you're taking, and none of it is regulated," Shafer said.

U.S. poison centers have received 656 reports of exposure to synthetic cannabinoids in the first four months of 2017, according to American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Doctors say a true picture of overdoses and deaths from use of synthetic marijuana is nearly impossible to see.

"The challenge is that there are so many different substances, so it's hard to even test to see what substance is being used. Someone may buy a package of K2 on the shelf, but we don't even know what they're taking," Shafer said.

Health effects from the drug can include severe anxiety, vomiting, muscle spasms, intense hallucinations and death.

Tests have shown that you can buy two identical bags of the designer drug but each can contain different ingredients.

Researchers say one may have no effect on you while the other can lead to your death.

If you think someone is experiencing an adverse reaction to synthetic marijuana, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

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