Source: Sparta Independent
At least 15 teenagers in the Sussex-Orange county area overdosed in the first half of March on marijuana-type products, ending up in a hospital or urgent care.
A dozen of those bad reactions happened in Orange County, but all have recovered, said county district attorney David Hoovler. “Some of them used regular marijuana, some of them were using vaping devices with unknown substances, and some of them used synthetic,” said Hoovler. “What it was, most of them will never know.”
Hoovler called the increase in overdoses “alarming” in a joint public safety warning with the Police Chiefs Association of Orange County. Come springtime, he says, there’s always an uptick in alcohol and substance abuse, as the weather warms and graduation approaches. But this number of bad reactions was exceptional.
“Teenagers by nature make bad decisions — we were all there,” said Hoovler. “They think they’ll smoke some weed before school, and next thing you know they’re going to the hospital. Or they think they’re going to go vape with their friends on a Friday night, and Saturday morning they’re the sickest they’ve ever been in their lives.”
Dr. Tucker Woods, the chief medical officer of a substance abuse rehab facility in Orange County, wonders if fentanyl-laced marijuana was a factor in the recent spate of overdoses. “What we’re mostly seeing is marijuana laced with opioids,” he said. “We’re seeing that constantly, because the patients will swear, ‘I’m not using opioids.’ And then as soon as they stop smoking the pot, their drug screen goes opioid-negative.”
Complicating matters are serious drug interactions. According to said Interim Superintendent Donna Geidel, one of the students who overdosed after vaping a marijuana substance had also taken Suboxone —- a narcotic used to treat opioid addiction and overdoses —- and was on prescription medications.
Three overdoses at Pine Bush High School involved vaping liquid marijuana, according to Crawford Police Chief Dominic Blasko, who responded to one of them. Whether the vapes contained naturally occurring or synthetic marijuana was the subject of heated debate at a recent drug abuse forum at the school. A parent of four who introduced herself as Jillian asked, “Can we stop calling it marijuana?”
“Start calling it what it is: Spice, K2, synthetic, mixed-with-chemicals, whatever. It is NOT marijuana, not straight THC.
That is why parents are angry. Tell the ugly truth because our students need to hear the ugly truth.”
Hoovler urges parents to talk to kids about dangerous substances that may seem benign but could be super-potent, or laced with life-threatening illicit drugs like fentanyl. “You never know what is in the substance you’re getting,” he said.