Although the 28,531 emergency department visits related to use of synthetic cannabinoids in 2011 represent only a small fraction of the 1.2 million illegal drug-related emergency visits that year, the number was more than double the figure from the previous year, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The number of emergency department visits related to synthetic cannabinoids known as Spice, K2 and other street names in 2010 had been 11,406, the report stated. There also was a doubling of emergency visits involving synthetic marijuana products among adolescents ages 12 to 17 from 2010-2011.
Also according to the report, “Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits Involving Synthetic Cannabinoids,” patients in 79% of these overall visits in 2011 were men.
An Oct. 16 news release from SAMHSA states that several grantees funded by the federal agency have initiated synthetic marijuana prevention efforts, including prevention education materials targeting parents and other concerned adults. “These injury reports compel us to get the word out to all segments of the community—especially youth—that these products can cause significant harm,” said SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde.
To view a full copy of the SAMHSA report, click here.