An 11-year-old girl was talking with friends in the living room of her mother's Easton apartment about 5 p.m. Sunday when she overheard the adults around the kitchen table talk about smoking K2, or synthetic marijuana, according to court records.
Moments later, an adult man collapsed and suffered a series of seizures while the child's mother, identified in court records as Andrea F. Truss, collapsed and lay motionless, police said.
The child ran to a downstairs neighbor's apartment in the building on the 200 block of North 14th Street and emergency personnel were called.
Easton police said when they arrived, they found the 47-year-old Truss and a man lying on the living room floor motionless. Suddenly, police said, Truss began convulsing and, as paramedics treated her, periodically yelling, "What the [expletive] is going on?"
Truss was treated at Easton Hospital's emergency room and late Sunday night was charged with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child. The man, who was not identified, was not charged and his condition is unclear. A third man who was sitting in the kitchen also was not identified in court records.
The child told police that after talking about smoking K2, the adults did so before collapsing.
K2 is one of several names for synthetic marijuana — a blend of herbs or other plant material that is ground up and sprayed with various chemicals intended to mimic the effects of marijuana.
Last week, Lehigh County hospitals reported dealing with more than 80 cases of patients suffering from the adverse effects of synthetic marijuana, and the Lehigh County coroner's office is investigating at least eight overdose deaths since April 16 that may be connected to the drug.
The Northampton County coroner's office said it has seen several deaths that officials suspect involved synthetic marijuana, but said conclusive rulings in synthetic marijuana cases are difficult due to the varied types of chemicals that can be used to create the drugs.
Sherri Kacinko, a toxicologist at NMS Labs in Willow Grove, which does testing for police, said drug designers constantly switch the compounds used in their products and toxicologists are always a step behind. She said she received a list on March 9 of 29 new compounds to check for and, within days, she had a second memo adding five more.
Typically, she said, someone at the state police labs or NMS will identify new compounds in the products that are being sold. Toxicologists will go through a series of steps to develop a test to find that compound in blood samples and then assess that test.
In an effort to catch up with or stay on pace with synthetic marijuana designers, toxicologists will sometimes guess what compounds to test for.
"You prepare for a compound that might be the next iteration, and each time you get some right and you get some wrong," she said.
She said she hopes to have a definitive test for the latest slate of overdose cases in the next two weeks.
by Matt Coughlin, mcall.com. 4/29/15
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