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Illinois officials warn of fatal case of synthetic cannabis use

Samples of bath salts and synthetic cannabinoids that are examples of designer drugs targeted by lawmakers in many states. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)

Illinois health officials are warning residents of unsafe synthetic marijuana – or synthetic cannabinoids – that recently caused someone to bleed severely and then die.

To date, 38 people in the Chicago area and central Illinois have reported severe bleeding after using synthetic cannabinoids, according to the Illinois Department of Public Heath.

In those cases, people who used synthetic cannabinoids were hospitalized for symptoms such as coughing up blood, urinating blood, and bloody noses or gums, IDPH said. In three cases, individuals tested positive for a lethal drug used in rat poison.

“Synthetic cannabinoids are unsafe,” IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah said. “They can contain a variety of chemicals, and users often don’t know what those are, such as rat poison.”

IDPH declined to release information about the fatal case of synthetic cannabinoid use, citing confidentiality for the victim.

Also known as fake weed, the synthetic cannabinoids are human-made and sprayed on to dried plant material, IDPH said. They can be smoked or sold as liquids for vaporizers and e-cigarettes.

The health department was still trying to identify common products in the cannabinoids and determine where they originated.

The Illinois Department of Public Health tracks cases of bleeding from synthetic marijuana online.

Anyone with a reaction to synthetic cannabinoids should call 911, IDPH said.