A drug that was marketed as “fake pot” led to a zombie outbreak in New York City, reports HealthDay.
A New York City neighborhood last summer was plagued with a potent synthetic drug that was harsher than any marijuana on the market. Over 33 people in the event became intoxicated and immobilized after smoking it. Approximately 18 were taken to the hospital for treatment.
After testing their blood and urine, physicians concluded that a synthetic product referred to as AK-47 24 Karat Gold was in their system. This was 85 times more potent than THC, which is the main active ingredient in marijuana.
The Zombie Effect
This synthetic drug triggered an odd Zombie-like effect on those that took it. In fact, they were seen stumbling around the block with empty stairs. Their arms and feet were shuffling, and they were not speaking, just groaning at those starring at them.
The New England Journal of Medicine assessed the Zombie effect and confirmed that synthetic marijuana was the cause, says Science Magazine.
The drug was developed by pharma companies and academics to help study the receptors in the human body, but these synthetic cannabinoids act on the same receptor cells as real cannabis. Unfortunately, these compounds can be more than 100 times potent from the original, and they are growing as a class of drugs that are illegally sold in the streets.
To identify where the Brooklyn batch came from, researchers from the University of California started with pouches that were found in the patients. They analyzed the samples and concluded that it contained AMB_FUBINACA, which is a potent compound that was similar to the one created by Pfizer in 2009. They also found the breakdown of the same compound in eight blood samples from patients treated in NYC.
The people that were exposed to this version were lucky, however, because most of the synthetic compounds have serious side effects on the cardiac system. This batch did not.
The same compound is considered a potent illicit drug in Japan and the United States has designated this particular compound as a Schedule I controlled substance, says CNN.
This drug has already shown up on the streets in Louisiana as well, and the psychoactive ingredient coined “Train Wreck 2” is causing problems for law enforcement and medical professionals. By July 2014, Louisiana prohibited the drug by an immediate emergency ruling.
Most of the drugs are distributed as mixtures of spices and herbs with shredded plant material that is laced with chemicals that are meant to act similar to THC.
The laboratories creating these are set up in homes, and more than 540 of these substances have been found.
Researchers believe that there is a gross underestimation of how many of these synthetic compounds are out there. Instead, they think that there are hundreds more, and those synthetic drugs could eventually hit the streets, cause numerous deaths, or another Zombie-like scare that Brooklyn experienced this summer.