[Updated] Synthetic Weed Found in Alabama Prison Lands K9 in Hospital

Sadly, Jake the dog did not survive.
Synthetic Weed Found in Alabama Prison Lands K9 in Hospital
Daria Serdtseva/ Shutterstock

Update: The K9, named Jake, died over the weekend, according to local media.

Original Story: A prison K9 in Alabama required CPR after a contraband raid last week exposed the animal to synthetic marijuana.

The dog, named Jake, assisted a search conducted last Thursday at Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore County, Alabama. As the search unfolded, Jake came into contact with a “powdery substance,” Alabama.com reported, and quickly became unresponsive. He was then immediately transported to the prison infirmary before being taken to a local veterinary clinic. Ultimately, Jake was taken to the clinic at Auburn University. 

The substance was identified by a HazMat team as synthetic marijuana. Sgt. Quinton Jones, Jake’s handler, told local media that the dog “lost his balance and became unresponsive” after being exposed to the substance, and he credited the quick action of a pair of prison medical officials, who performed CPR and applied an IV in the prison courtyard, for saving his life.

“Without their immediate response to Jake’s condition, he would not be alive today,” Jones said. “They are heroes for saving his life.”

Jake’s condition is said to have improved on Friday, and he is expected to make a full recovery and return to work within a few weeks.

The incident is yet another frightening reminder of the dangers surrounding synthetic weed, which has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. The drug is typified by its accessibility, perhaps even more than actual marijuana; it’s also decidedly more dangerous than the real thing. The drug, also known as K2, or “spice,” has resulted in thousands of hospitalizations. In New York, where it was often sold in bodegas and head shops, there were more than 6,000 emergency room visits linked to its usage in 2015.   

It’s also been increasingly used by inmates in prison. The Miami Herald reported last year that synthetic marijuana had become the top killer in the Florida state prison system. It had become so widespread there that the FDC produced an informational video about its dangers, which was then shown to the more than 96,000 inmates in Florida.

Last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections closed 24 prisons and suspended mail service for more than 46,000 inmates after what was believed to be a considerable exposure to synthetic marijuana. In the span of two months last summer, 45 Pennsylvania inmates suffered overdoses, and roughly 50 staff members were made ill.

That prompted the Department of Corrections there to ratchet up security measures to stifle the smuggling, which is often done through mail, familial visits, and even drones.

Last month, a former Nebraska prison guard was given probation for smuggling synthetic marijuana to an inmate in the state. The guard, working with a colleague, was charged after attempting to take the K2 into a prison in Tecumseh, Nebraska in the fall of 2017, but the pair were stymied after discovering they didn’t have access to the inmate’s housing unit.

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