San Diego

More Than a Dozen Sickened After Bad Batch of ‘Spice'

More than a dozen people were treated, the youngest 13 years old, and others taken to the hospital after consuming a bad batch of synthetic marijuana known as "Spice" in downtown San Diego, police and fire officials said.

It happened at approximately 3:20 p.m. PST Sunday near 6th Avenue and C Street downtown, San Diego Police and San Diego Fire-Rescue Department officials said.

Though initial reports from police and fire officials said the incident was linked to a drunken brawl or possibly a tainted brownie, police confirmed a group of people fell ill after using synthetic marijuana.

The drug, a hallucinogenic, consists of dried plant material sprayed with laboratory-produced cannabinoids and is used as an alternative to smoking marijuana. Synthetic marijuana is popular among teens and young adults and has been linked to altered mental status, increased heart rate and acute kidney injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"They are disoriented they are slightly hallucinogenic," said SDPD Battalion Chief Mike Finnerty. "They ramble when they talk."

At least 13 people were being treated as of 5:30 p.m. Sunday, two of whom were taken to the hospital in critical condition. At least five adults and five juveniles suffered serious to mild symptoms after smoking the drug, authorities said. Some of those affected passed out in the middle of the street. 

"We had two individuals that were transported in serious condition that evidently had taken a lot more than the rest we have had today," Finnerty explained.

Police said the drug has been sold on the streets of downtown San Diego in a black package with blue dragons on the side and are asking people to be aware if they have purchased it.

"It's a manufactured substance and depending on who manufactured it, it could be of different qualities, different strengths," Finnerty said. "It could be that the current batch that these people are accessing is much stronger than what they are used to or it could have some other unknown chemical in it that's not normally in it." Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Medics and other crews were treating people at 6th Avenue and C Street, 7th Avenue and Broadway and 14th Street and Imperial. 

No further information was immediately available.

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