Texas medics report flurry of K2 medical calls

The synthetic cannabinoid, also known as “Spice,” mimics the effects of marijuana

By Philip Jankowski
Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Since late Thursday night, local paramedics have seen a sudden uptick in medical calls related to the synthetic drug known as “K2,” EMS officials said.

Medics have responded to at least 11 instances downtown of ingestion and adverse medical reactions to the substance, said Austin-Travis County EMS Cmdr. Mike Benavides, a spokesman for the department. Animal control also responded to one instance Friday of a dog ingesting the drug.

K2, a synthetic cannabinoid also commonly known as “Spice,” is designed to mimic the effects of marijuana. It is known to cause aggressive behavior, seizures and paranoia, Benavides said.

In recent years, the drug has been the cause of at least one death in Austin and connected to several others, according to the Travis County medical examiner’s office.

The recent flurry of K2-related calls have been in the area between Sixth and 23rd streets, EMS said. They included one call Friday night at 23rd Street and San Jacinto Boulevard where three people were hospitalized after ingesting the drug.

Benavides said it is hard to tell what the side effects of K2 will be for each person. Many of the adverse reactions result from a combination of the drug’s effects and pre-existing medical conditions, he said.

Law enforcement agencies have faced difficulties in enforcing K2 bans because the chemical makeups of the drug can be easily changed into new strains that have not been identified as controlled substances.

However, three bills written to beef up state laws against K2 and other synthetic drugs were approved last week in the state Senate and are expected to pass in the House.

©2015 Austin American-Statesman, Texas

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