Dozens overdose on synthetic marijuana in New Haven, Connecticut, authorities say

Laverne Higgins
August 18, 2018

Police swarmed a CT park near Yale University and searched people's homes for drugs Thursday in an effort to prevent more overdoses from a batch of synthetic marijuana blamed for sending more than 70 people to the hospital. "Don't put your life in harm".

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said the state has pledge to help the Elm City.

Dr Kathryn Hawk, an Emergency Department physician at Yale New Have Hospital, said the drug was laced with fentanyl, but police have yet to confirm the drug. Some people were unconscious, others were semi-conscious.

One crew of emergency responders treated nine victims within one hour, Alston told reporters.

Officials said most of the overdoses happened on the New Haven Green throughout the day on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, New Haven Director of Emergency Management Rick Fontana told WTNH-TV that a K2 sample it tested was negative for the presence of fentanyl.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, K2 or other synthetic cannabinoids alone can be deadly even without additives.

First responders in New Haven initially suspected that the drugs were laced with some form of opioid and used Narcan, which combats opioid overdoses, on the patients. 'Narcan was not effective here at the scene, ' said Alston.

Officer David Hartman was quoted by the newspaper as saying the patients were being treated for overdose-related respiratory illnesses.

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"The man was arrested within the last hour by members of the NHPD Intelligence Unit", police said in a release.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said Wednesday that the state Department of Public Health and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services were assisting New Haven with the rash of overdoses.

"Today's emergency is deeply troubling and illustrative of the very real and serious threat that illicit street drugs pose to health of individuals", Malloy said, according to the Courant.

"Bodies are literally dropping all around me from suspected drug overdoses", said Mario Boone, a journalist who was at the park, via Twitter.

Officials blamed K2 and said it can often be laced with unsafe or even lethal substances.

Doctors said some victims improved after being given the opioid overdose antidote drug naxolone, while others did not. No deaths were reported in either outbreak.

First responders scrambled all day Wednesday to handle almost 80 overdoses caused by what officials believe to be synthetic marijuana, which is commonly called K2.

This isn't the first time the city has seen a mass-overdose - a New Haven man pleaded guilty to charges in connection with overdoses of more than a dozen people in June 2016. "We've heard some reports of people smoking things", he said, "but it's impossible to say with certainty if all victims received the same substance".

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