State health officials have issued a warning about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, or “fake pot,” with severe bleeding and deaths reported in the Midwest and around the country.
One confirmed case of severe bleeding has been reported in Wisconsin and two deaths were reported in Illinois, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said.
“These recent cases of severe bleeding are evidence of the risks associated with synthetic cannabinoids and the harm these products can cause,” said State Health Officer Karen McKeown.
“We are working with state and local partners to make people aware of these dangers and identify potential cases in Wisconsin,” she said.
Other labels given to the product include “K2” and “Spice,” two brand names that have now become part of the drug lexicon.
Hundreds of chemicals are used to make synthetic cannabinoids, which are served up to the public in several ways, including spraying the chemicals on dried plant material or sold as a liquid that can be inhaled through e-cigarettes or other vaping tools.
Fake weed is illegal in Wisconsin and has been since 2011, with stiff penalties, including jail time, for possession and sale on the books.
The products can be found in parts of the U.S. in convenience stores, head shops and gas stations as well as online.
“New ones with unknown health risks are available each year,” DHS said in a statement. “Synthetic cannabinoid products are unsafe, and the health effects from using them can be unpredictable, harmful and even life threatening.”