An especially potent form of synthetic marijuana that has sent dozens of Coloradans to the hospital in the past few weeks is suspected to have come from China and Europe, according to an ongoing investigation in collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A 7News report detailed that the drug may be from 5 to 800 times more potent than previous synthetic recipes.
"You don't know what's in it -- and the stuff can kill you," Barbara Roach, DEA Special Agent in Charge for Colorado and the Western Division, told 7News.
The DEA is still working to identify the distributors and Denver Public Health officials have been treating it as a public health outbreak. Side effects of using synthetic cannabinoids can include psychotic episodes, seizures, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting and even catatonia.
On Denver Public Health's Facebook page, the organization warned the public about some of the synthetic names that have been involved in the recent spike of emergency visits:
Black Mamba. Blaze. Spice. Smoke. Skunk. Yuatan Fire. Genie Orange. These are just a few of the names for a drug causing a recent spike in emergency departments in Colorado.
According to a recent article by The Denver Post, analysis of the synthetic drugs can be particularly tricky because sometimes it turns up controlled-substance chemicals that are banned, and sometimes analysis turns up as marijuana that's legal.
Authorities are still investigating whether three deaths in Colorado can be tied to synthetic marijuana that also sent about 75 people to hospitals in the area beginning in late August.