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Synthetic Pot Sends Hundreds to ERs in Past Month

More than 300 people in Alabama and Mississippi have sought emergency care

FRIDAY, April 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- In the past month, more than 300 people in Alabama and Mississippi have sought emergency care after using synthetic marijuana, according to health officials.

Synthetic marijuana, also called spice, is sold illegally in convenience stores. Officials said there have been 227 spice-related emergency department visits in Mississippi since April 2, and 98 suspected spice-related emergency department visits in Alabama in the past month, ABC News reported.

Short-term effects include seizures, hallucinations, increased heart rate, anxiety attacks, uncontrollable rage, and suicidal thoughts, while the long-term effects are unknown, according to Alabama state health officer Donald Williamson, M.D. "We want the public to be aware of the toxic effects and other dangers associated with synthetic marijuana use," he said in a news release, ABC News reported.

Spice contains "unpredictable" chemicals that can also result in coma, according to health officials. In Hampton, Va., one woman died and six others were hospitalized over one weekend after using spice. Last August, New Hampshire officials declared a state of emergency after 20 people who used synthetic marijuana sought hospital treatment, ABC News reported.

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