There is little question that the public’s attitude toward the use of marijuana has begun to shift substantially in recent years. Many states, including Illinois, now have a medical cannabis program, and several states have gone so far as to legalize recreational marijuana use. While the long-term effects of smoking marijuana may be similar to those associated with smoking tobacco, federal safety officials have yet to find a single recorded instance of a marijuana overdose death.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of “synthetic marijuana,” which has recently been linked to at least two deaths and many other cases of serious internal bleeding in the Chicago area. This week, federal drug enforcement officials say they traced the source of the product to a convenience store on Chicago’s west side and that three men have been arrested in connection with distributing the substance.
According to various news reports, members of the Chicago Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) went undercover in an attempt to buy synthetic marijuana products at a particular West Side Chicago mini-mart. The products were in sealed packages and sold under brand names, including “Blue Giant,” and “Matrix.” Law enforcement officers arrested two men who worked at the store and seized nearly two kilograms of products. Police found a third man at his home, where nearly three more kilos were seized, along with $280,000 in cash.
Testing of the product reportedly revealed the presence of a substance used in rat poison. The findings were consistent with fears expressed by the Illinois Department of Public Health in the wake of more than four dozen cases of severe bleeding in recent weeks. At least 56 people statewide were recently treated for symptoms of bleeding, including coughing blood, bloody urine, and bleeding gums after using synthetic marijuana. Of these, 17 were directly linked to such products in Chicago.
The men are facing federal charges for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
The term “synthetic marijuana” is somewhat misleading. It refers a human-made concoction of chemicals that can be sprayed or sprinkled on dried, shredded plant material—which results in a product that closely resembles actual cannabis. Synthetic marijuana is commonly known as “spice” or “K2.” The difference, however, is in the chemicals. While they are similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the mind-altering substance in marijuana, the synthetic versions are up to 85 times more potent. Tainted products, obviously, are even more dangerous.
Get the Help You Need
The men in question were charged under federal drug distribution laws, but it is possible for those who sell or attempt to sell synthetic marijuana to face state-level charges in Illinois as well. If you or someone you love has been charged with a drug crime, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.