Fifteen people in downtown’s skid row were
hospitalized this weekend after consuming a tainted form of synthetic marijuana
known as Spice, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said in remarks reported
Thankfully, Beck said in remarks reported by the Los Angeles Times,
nobody died, even though most were rushed to the hospital after collapsing on
the sidewalk and streets. The first incidents were reported Friday afternoon,
Homeless advocates, shelter operators and police officers told The Times
that the weekend’s episode isn’t the first time this year that ambulances
have rolled up to homeless encampments and found poisoned spice users.
“They are cutting it with something lethal,”the Rev. Andy Bales, who
runs the Union Rescue Mission, told The Times. “We’ve seen violence and
convulsions…. I saw a guy rolling into the street on Friday”
Spice is made by spraying psychoactive chemicals onto plant matter and
then smoking or eating it.
Side effects include racing heartbeat, nausea and sometimes seizures.
The DEA has identified 400 new designer drugs, mostly with origins in
rogue labs in China.
“These are extremely dangerous drugs, despite being falsely marketed to
youth as being a ‘safe’ alternative and having innocent names like ‘spice’
and ‘K2,’” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker has said. “The often unknown and
constantly changing chemicals in these drugs can have unpredictable and
devastating effects on users”
Even for skid row, the rash of overdoses sparked anxiety. HazMat crews
checked the area to make sure there was not a larger public safety threat
Friday night, and some streets were closed