NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The number of victims of overdoses linked to a suspected bad batch of synthetic marijuana has risen to 76 in New Haven, Connecticut, as officials try to determine exactly what sick people.
The people on and around the historic New Haven Green near the University of Yale, began to get sick shortly after 8 p.m. and on Wednesday, and the overdose and continued until Thursday morning. No deaths were reported, and most of the people brought to hospitals have been discharged, officials said.
Symptoms varied. Many of the victims lost consciousness, officials said. Others surrendered. Some just became nauseous or drowsy.
‘K2’ synthetic marijuana: What to know
Toxicological testing remained incomplete Thursday. Some of the victims tested positive for the powerful opioid fentanyl, but it seemed like most, if not all overdoses are caused only by a powerful batch of “K2” synthetic marijuana, said Dr. Kathryn Hawk, an a & e doctor and professor at the Yale-New Haven Hospital, where many of the victims were treated.
Hawk said that the people who tested positive have taken other drugs laced with fentanyl in addition to the synthetic marijuana is plant material sprayed with drugs and chemicals.
Both the drugs, especially fentanyl, have been linked to the rising drug overdose in the whole country. Hawk said that some people are better with the help of naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, while others did not.
“The main point is when you buy something on the street, you never know what you’re going to get,” she said.
The officials said three people have been arrested in connection with overdoses, including a man who may have been with the distribution of free samples of the K2.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration tested some of the synthetic marijuana seized in New Haven and not finding fentanyl, said Rick Fontana, the city’s emergency operations director.
Fontana said 72 people were taken to hospitals and four refused to be treated or transported to hospitals.
“Yesterday was very, very busy, something we haven’t seen in quite some time, many people fall all at the same time,” Fontana said.
He said a few people sick Thursday morning, but it was not immediately clear whether this is the same bad batch of synthetic marijuana.
New Haven emergency services were called to a similar overdose outbreak on the Green on July 4, when more than a dozen people became ill from synthetic marijuana. The city also saw more than a dozen synthetic marijuana overdose at the end of January. No deaths were reported in either outbreak.