Health officials from the District of Columbia have a stern warning for youths living in the nation’s capital: using synthetic marijuana may turn you into the living dead.
Earlier this week, the district’s Department of Health unveiled a new campaign comparing the negative side effects of fake pot substances such as K2, Spice and Scooby Snax to the fates suffered by characters in popular zombie films like “Dawn of the Dead” and “28 Days Later.” According to health officials, fake pot users risk hallucinations, anxiety, vomiting and potential psychotic episodes.
A Monitoring the Future study released last year, found that synthetic marijuana is now the second most commonly used illicit drug among the nation’s high school students, behind non-synthetic cannabis. Additionally, a Drug Abuse Warning Network report from last year estimated that 11,406 people visited emergency rooms in 2010 after ingesting synthetic marijuana compounds, and Poison Control Centers reported that calls stemming from fake weed use doubled between 2010 and 2011.
In the district, use of synthetic marijuana appears higher among younger demographics. A recent press release issued by the district’s Department of Health stated the average age of users in the city was just 13.
“The launch of the synthetic marijuana prevention campaign is the first step in the right direction,” Saul Levin, the Department of Health’s interim director, said in a press release.
“It is also important for youth, parents and community leaders to know that synthetic marijuana is harmful,” he added. “Use of this drug has proven to cause serious and lasting health effects that jeopardize the body and developing mind.”