In the news today is an outbreak of synthetic cannabinoid-associated illnesses in Florida. This report out of Gainesville, FL states that 28 people have been hospitalized over the past 48 hours. The products associated with these illnesses have, at least initially, been traced to a local smokeshop. Needless to say, the shop was raided and a larger amount of synthetic cannabinoid product was confiscated. Florida has some of the toughest laws on the books regarding synthetic cannabinoids so it'll be interesting to see what actually comes of this.
These newer generation compounds are no joke and I've discussed my reservations about them ad nauseam (here and here and here and here and here). We know nothing of their pharmacology and toxicology. Most of the newer research chemicals are nothing but mix-and-match versions of earlier chemicals or what I like to say is a chemical grab bag o' fun.
The earlier reported outbreak of illnesses related to synthetic cannabinoid use in Texas still hasn't been resolved or at least a chemical has not been identified and its identity released to the media.
Those sickened by drug now up to 28; shop is raided
A North Main Street smoke shop was raided Saturday and pounds of the drug commonly known as spice were seized in connection with the hospitalization of a growing number of people in the past several days who have suffered seizures and other health issues.
Gainesville Police Lt. Jeff Blundell said the raid occurred after officers with a multi-agency drug task force got a search warrant based on information investigators have gotten recently about Land B4 Time at 604 N. Main St.
Meanwhile, Alachua County Health Department Director Paul Myers said Saturday that 28 people have now been hospitalized. Some have been released while others are still being treated.
At least one of those sickened by the drug linked it directly to the Land B4 Time shop, Blundell said.
“While they were searching the business, officers were notified that EMS responded to another spice seizure patient. One of our officers responded to that and learned that patient purchased the spice at Land B4 Time,” Blundell said, reading from an email written by another officer. “Drug Task Force members seized several pounds of spice, a shotgun, approximately $2,000 in cash, packaging materials and approximately 100 pipes.”
No arrests were made and charges are pending, Blundell told The Sun.
The shop was closed Saturday afternoon.
The Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Health Department put out warnings regarding spice Friday night after about a dozen people had been hospitalized Thursday and Friday after using the drug.
Blundell said drug investigators had been getting information about Land B4 Time before the people being sickened. That information coupled with the outbreak prompted police to seek a search warrant from a judge Saturday morning. The raid was conducted about 11:30 a.m.
Several customers were in the store when officers arrived. While the operation was happening, another 15 customers walked in, Blundell said.
Spice is touted as synthetic marijuana and is often sold in colorful packets by a variety of names including Scooby Snax and Purple Flake.
Spice itself is illegal. However, some manufacturers skirt the law by slightly altering the chemical makeup. The drugs have been sold in convenience stores, gas stations and some smoke shops.
Blundell did not have information as to whether the spice seized Saturday was in pre-packaged packets or was being sold loosely.
Police have been distributing flyers in areas where the emergencies have occurred -- including Tent City, the Sweetwater Branch area, the downtown plaza and College Park -- warning of the dangers.
Blundell said he did not have information on whether any of the others who have become sickened told authorities they bought the substance at Land B4 Time or at another smoke shop or convenience store.
Myers, who described the drug going around as highly toxic, said the first incidents occurred in the area of the Tent City homeless camp south of downtown.
“We’re over 28 cases in the last 48 hours. We know we still have some of this substance on the street and those who utilize this stuff should stop,” Myers said. “It seems to have started on South Main Street near Tent City and expanded outward. Some of the cases came from Northeast 39th Avenue last night all the way over to Northwest 23rd Avenue by Buchholz High School.”
Published: 31 May 2014 Hits: 405
Published: Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 5:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 5:11 p.m.