Rat poison-laced synthetic weed has spread to Florida, and at least one man has died from exposure to the toxin. Florida is now the eighth state reporting cases of medical emergencies caused by tainted synthetic cannabis.
According to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner, Carlos Pimentel-Bonano, 37, died on March 26. When the medical examiner performed an autopsy, toxicology tests revealed the presence of brodifacoum, local media reports. The tests also found THC and the synthetic cannabinoid 5F-ADB in Pimentel-Bonano’s system.
Hillsborough County health officials have also reported at least two injuries from tainted synthetic pot. And statewide, Florida has seen at least five more cases.
State officials are warning Floridians not to use synthetic cannabis because of the poisonings. They are also urging anyone who suspects they may have been exposed to seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Poison Causes Severe Bleeding and Can Lead to Death
Rat poison and other pesticides often contain brodifacoum as one of its ingredients. The chemical blocks the effects of Vitamin K, a nutrient essential for blood coagulation. Exposure to the poison can cause uncontrolled bleeding and unexplained bruising. Symptoms begin two to 26 days after exposure to the toxin.
Officials have begun referring to the malady as synthetic cannabinoid-associated coagulopathy. Clinical symptoms include abnormal bruising and bleeding from the eyes, gums, and ears. Patients have also reported excessive menstrual bleeding, vomiting blood, and blood in urine or stool.
Doctors treat the condition with high doses of Vitamin K over a long period of time, sometimes months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just two weeks of treatment can cost as much as $8,000.
Other States Are Reporting the Same Problem
The CDC has reported nearly 200 cases of brodifacoum poisoning caused by synthetic cannabis. The poison has killed at least four others. Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, and Wisconsin have now all reported cases.
Last month, Law enforcement officers took three Illinois men into custody for selling tainted synthetic marijuana. Federal agents arrested the men at the King Mini Mart convenience store in Chicago’s west side.
According to media reports, the men had allegedly sold packets of “spice” to undercover officers posing as customers. Law enforcement subsequently arrested Fouad Masoud, 48, Jad Allah, 44 and Adil Khan Mohammed, 44. Masoud had $280,000 in cash in his possession when police arrested him.
The store had offered for sale several different brands of the fake pot before their arrests.
“The synthetic cannabinoids were packaged in sealed containers and labeled with such names as ‘Matrix,’ ‘Blue Giant’ and ‘Crazy Monkey,’” federal agents said.
The agents also said that the “spice” they had seized was dangerously tainted.“Preliminary testing of some of the cannabinoids purchased by the undercover officer revealed a detectable amount of brodifacoum, a toxic substance frequently used in rat poison.”
As of May 2, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has reported a total of 159 cases of brodifacoum poisoning in 15 counties. The IDPH also reports that synthetic cannabis contaminated with the deadly substance has caused four deaths in the state.