Chemically-altered marijuana sends users to ER daily

Chemically-altered marijuana sends users to ER daily

LUBBOCK, Texas -

"The only patients I have coming in are strictly chemically-altered marijuana or synthetic. I've never had a patient come in with a bad reaction to just THC in marijuana," Charlie Williams, a registered nurse at University Medical Center said.

UMC reports a constant influx of synthetic marijuana overdoses and a new surge of OD's from chemically-altered, hydroponic weed.

These two forms of marijuana produce similar symptoms that will send you to the ER.

Williams sees the critical effects of these overdoses too frequently.

"Patients that come in, they say 'I feel like I'm going to die, please help me,' and there's really nothing we can do," Williams said.

Overdoses on synthetic and on chemically-enhanced, hydroponic weed look the same.

"We're not sure which marijuana you're coming in on, but you have very bad symptoms. They will have violent seizures, they'll have violent hallucinations, they'll be going crazy," Williams said.

Synthetic marijuana is all too common these days. UMC reports treating overdose patients daily.

Even natural pot can be dangerous, if producers put chemicals into the growing process, like they can with hydroponic weed. This particular kind of drug is grown in water rather than soil and typically in a controlled interior environment.

"We're getting grades of what's referred to as hydroponic marijuana, which is high-grade, chemically-enhanced type of marijuana that we actually see here in Lubbock triggering an overdose of once per week in our county hospital," Sheriff Kelly Rowe said.

"The chemically-altered marijuana is basically just poisoned," Williams said. "People get what's underneath their kitchen sink, it's a lot like making meth. They just throw anything and everything in there, and then some of the chemicals are coming from china. These are all just basically poisoned that once put into your body, will give you a reaction as if you just ingested poison."

Hydroponic weed can contain nearly 30 percent more THC than regular marijuana. That's what gives users that euphoric high and makes it more appealing.

"The manufacturers of marijuana have increased the potency of it, so it's moved from a 15 percent back in the 70s early 80s, to almost 90 percent THC level and that stays in the fat cells of the body for up to 90 days so these people are getting high levels of THC," George Comiskey with Texas Tech Center for Collegiate Recovery said.

Williams gave a perspective on how RNs try to treat overdoses.

"None of our medications are helping or working on these type of patients. We've given up to 20 mg of Ativan and it does not touch these patients. At that point, we're giving so much sedation medication that the patients ultimately go into cardiac arrest and we almost never get them back after that happens."

She said there's no way to tell how potent a hit will be, or if it's laced with those dangerous chemicals.

The best thing to do is avoid any types altogether.

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