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Update: Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits Involving Synthetic Cannabinoids.


The CBHSQ Report. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2013-.
2014 Oct 16.


Background: Synthetic cannabinoids are dangerous products which are sold as a legal high and marketed towards youth with names such as "Spice," and "K2." Although regulatory agencies have attempted to stop the distribution of these products, manufacturers continually change their chemical structures to evade current laws and regulations. Methods: Data from 2010 and 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) were analyzed. Results: The estimated number of visits made to emergency departments (EDs) that involved synthetic cannabinoids more than doubled between 2010 (11,406 visits) and 2011 (28,531 visits). When stratified by age, the rate of ED visits increased more than fourfold for those aged 18 to 20 (from 13.8 visits per 100,000 population in 2010 to 60.8 visits per 100,000 population in 2011) and doubled for those aged 12 to 17 (from 14.9 visits per 100,000 population in 2010 to 30.2 visits per 100,000 population in 2011). In 2011, synthetic cannabinoids were the only substance involved in 65 percent of ED visits by those aged 20 or younger. Conclusion: These results demonstrate the harmful effects of synthetic cannabinoids, especially on youth. Education continues to be needed for parents, the medical community and to retailers who sell such products.

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