- At least 25 people were hospitalized after overdosing on synthetic marijuana
- Police responded at 7.30pm to Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood
- The neighborhood has become known as ‘ground zero’ for K2 addicts
- All those who were hospitalized do not have life-threatening conditions
- One man was arrested on Saturday night in connection to the mass overdose
- K2 has been known to induce paranoia, confusion, vomiting, and hallucinations
They looked more like zombies than New Yorkers as they slumped against buildings and lay down on the sidewalks.
Police say they all had taken a bad batch of drugs known to induce paranoia, vomiting and hallucinations.
At least 25 people were hospitalized in New York City after a possible overdose of synthetic marijuana known as ‘K2’.
Police responded to an intersection in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood on Saturday and loaded dazed and confused users onto stretchers and into ambulances.
It is believed that this is the same location where 33 people overdosed on K2 in 2016.
Over two dozen people overdose on K2 at same time in Brooklyn
On Saturday night, NBC 4 New York reported that the number of those who overdosed was believed to be 16 before those figures were corrected on Sunday.
Authorities received a call around 7.30pm of people found unresponsive on the corner of Broadway and Myrtle Avenue.
Those hospitalized were taken to Interfaith Medical Center, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and Woodhull Medical Center, and all are expected to live.
Witnesses at the scene said the drug users looked like zombies and could barely keep their bodies upright.
‘We call them The Walking Dead,’ Israel P told The New York Daily News.
The 23-year-old, who works at his family’s nearby restaurant, said he saw three people get taken away in ambulances.
Two search warrants were executed at Big Boy Deli at 930 Broadway (left) and the Star Deli and Grill at 943 Broadway (right), according to police
Another man, who declined to give his name told The News: ‘One of them, a guy, was upside down. His body up, his head down…Another one was lying down flat.’
Police arrested Tyquan Holley, 41, on Saturday night for criminal possession of a controlled substance after he was found with synthetic marijuana on Myrtle Avenue near Broadway.
Holley has a lengthy rap sheet with 18 prior arrests on charges ranging from patronizing a prostitute, robbery and grand larceny, police said.
WHAT IS SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA?
Synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, contains man-made chemicals that act on the same cell receptors in the brain as THC does in natural marijuana.
Researchers have found instances in which chemicals in synthetic marijuana can bind much more strongly to cell receptors than THC does in marijuana that is grown
This can produce stronger effects, such as an elevated mood or feeling of relaxation.
But synthetic marijuana is also known to have psychotic effects on some users.
These can include extreme anxiety, confusion, paranoia and even hallucinations.
It is often packaged under names such as Spice, AK-47, Green Giant Scooby Snax, Smacked, iBlown and Dank.
Source: National Institute of Drug Abuse
Additionally, two search warrants were executed at Big Boy Deli at 930 Broadway and the Star Deli and Grill at 943 Broadway, according to police.
Authorities have called Big Boy Deli the ‘sole distributor’ of K2 in the area, according to DNAinfo.com
Three other men were arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes including Raddwan Alsaidi, 24; Marcial Cortez, 26; and Ashraf Rayshani, 22.
Cortez was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon, a knife, reported The New York Times.
Two people were taken into custody at the Deli and Grill on charges related to selling untaxed cigarettes, police said.
K2 contains man-made chemicals that act on the same cell receptors in the brain that THC does in natural marijuana. It is dirt cheap, often sold for one to five dollars for a stick or package.
Researchers have found instances in which chemicals in synthetic marijuana can bind much more strongly to cell receptors than THC, producing stronger effects.
Because the chemicals vary from packet to packet, the effects of K2 are unpredictable and can change from use to use, according to the New York City Health Department.
Packaged under names like Spice, AK-47, Smacked, Green Giant Scooby Snax, iBlown and Dank, K2 can lead to seizures, psychosis, dependence and death.
The products can also cause a rapid increase in heart, paranoia, confusion, vomiting and hallucinations.
Richard Rojas, who plowed into a crowd of pedestrian in Times Square in May 2017 – killing an 18-year-old girl, was reportedly high on K2 at the time, reported ABC 7.
More than 6,000 people have been sent to the emergency room in New York because of K2 since 2015 and there have been two confirmed deaths caused by the drug.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill in October that made it illegal to sell or produce K2, making it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail and fines of more than $100,000.
In May 2016, he announced that there had been an 85 percent decline in K2-related emergency visits in the last 10 months.
Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr and Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, whose districts includes Beford-Stuyvesant, held a press conference on Sunday during which they asked for extra law enforcement outside Big Boy Deli.
‘Right now we are talking about step up enforcements in the local area to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,’ Cornegy told reporters.
Shops that are caught selling the drug lose their license to sell cigarettes. But Cornegy said many area shops have found ways to get around the law. [rewrite[
‘Some of the local shop owners are now using what’s called runners. So, not selling it absolutely out of the store, but having people who are working outside of the store who are loosely associated with the stores doing their business for them,’ the councilman told New York 1.
‘So we have to escalate our efforts in an effort to stop this scourge in our community.’