Health Officials Warn Marylanders About the Continued Health Risks of Using Synthetic Cannabinoid Products


Baltimore, Md (July 20, 2018) – Reports of a spike in severe health problems associated with synthetic cannabinoid use in the Washington, D.C. area over the last week underscore the dangers associated with these products. While a similar spike has not been identified in Maryland at this time, the Maryland Poison Center and the Maryland Department of Health warn Marylanders about the continued serious health risks associated with using these unpredictable, harmful, and potentially deadly products, and urge residents not to use any of these products. 

Synthetic cannabinoids — which are also known as synthetic marijuana, K2, spice, fake weed, among other names are human-made, mind-altering chemicals that are sprayed on to dried plant material. They can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized in e-cigarettes and other devices. These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant. However, synthetic cannabinoids can cause serious side effects that are very different from those of marijuana.

Recently, synthetic cannabinoids have been found to be contaminated with a chemical (brodifacoum) used in some rat poisons, which can cause severe bleeding and death. Synthetic cannabinoid products may also be contaminated with other drugs or toxic chemicals. In addition to bleeding, they can cause breathing problems, gastrointestinal problems, heart attack, fast heart rate, high blood pressure, stroke, kidney failure, and muscle damage. 

Cases of life-threatening bleeding disorders linked to synthetic cannabinoid use continue to be detected in many states, including 33 cases, with at least 1 death, in Maryland since the first case was detected on April 3.

If anyone who has used synthetic cannabinoids develops significant unexplained bleeding, it is recommended they:

·         Seek immediate medical care at a hospital.

·         Contact the Maryland Poison Center at 800-222-1222.

If people have issues or concerns after using synthetic cannabinoids, the Maryland Poison Center is available for consultation 24 hours a day by calling 800-222-1222. For substance use disorder resources, call Maryland’s Crisis Hotline at 211 and press 1. 




Marylanders who need help finding substance use disorder treatment resources should visit or call Maryland Crisis Connect, which provides 24/7 support, at 211, press 1. For information on many of the policies currently implemented to fight addiction and overdose in Maryland, see If you know of someone in need of treatment for a substance use disorder, treatment facilities can be located by location and program characteristics on our page at


The Maryland Department of Health is the State agency that protects Maryland’s public health. We work together to promote and improve the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management, and community engagement. Stay connected: and ​