K2 blamed for more than a dozen overdose cases in Columbia, MO

K2 blamed for more than a dozen overdose cases in Columbia, MO

K2 blamed for more than a dozen overdose cases in Columbia

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Columbia police and medics continued Thursday to respond to overdoses from synthetic marijuana after authorities reported about a dozen cases Wednesday.

Police were called at about 10 a.m. Thursday to Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church, which also operates a homeless shelter.

“The predators know where (homeless persons) are going to be and when,” Bryan said. “They have a vulnerable, captive customer base, so to speak. Anything with homeless services, the predators follow. They know from eight to noon, if Turning Point is operating they will probably find a couple customers. They know that every night when Loaves and Fishes (a dinner service) is operating, they can probably move some.”

K2 overdose count climbs as police seek source

Police said they will be heavily patrolling the area and that they have received numerous reports of people near the church who were "non-responsive, having a seizure, or in cardiac arrest."

It’s not clear what the suspect K2 in Columbia is laced with at this time. Earlier this year, a batch of K2 in the St. Louis area, which may have been laced with Fentanyl, caused a large number of overdoses in a concentrated area in just a few hours. In the Washington D.C. area, K2 was laced with rat poison. K2 laced with other dangerous substances caused severe illness and at least three deaths earlier this year in Illinois.

In a press conference, Lt. Geoff Jones said, "we are going to find people selling it and arrest them."

Five or more overdose cases happened near the church between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Batches of synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, have been cited in mass overdoses similar to the cases in Columbia in several cities. Authorities also reported several overdoses concentrated around extended stay motels.

“K2 is ridiculously cheap,” Bryan said. “They throw whatever they can find that’s affordable to them to buy en masse and put it into this poison. It’s really a predator and prey situation. Our people come here for services because they need a hot meal and become fish in a barrel for the predators in this town.”

"Because it's out there in the community, but it's not just the homeless population," Lt. Jones said.

“Our primary concerns are airway, breathing and circulation,” Fraizer said. “We make sure we can maintain their airway. If they are in respiratory arrest, we are going to provide oxygen. We do have Narcan (an opioid-reversal drug). If we suspect it’s a drug overdose of some kind, we will try that as well.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration misuse or abuse of the drug can cause health effects including anxiety, racing heartbeat and high blood pressure, intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Police say a type of synthetic marijuana, possibly laced with dangerous narcotics or even rat poison, is to blame for more than dozen overdose cases in Columbia.

“The fire department has run approximately 12 calls through this morning,” Frazier said. “There was one additional call this afternoon. The number of subjects at each call has ranged between one and four, so we have approximately between 15 and 20 people we have seen over 12 to 13 calls in three days.”

The police department said in a news release that five of the cases occurred between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Other overdoses were reported at extended stay motels. Police say no deaths have occurred.

While often referred to as synthetic marijuana, K2 is not in any way similar to or related to the cannabis plant, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The drug is actually manufactured from a hodgepodge of chemicals or other drugs, which are sprayed on plant matter to produce an intense high.

The Columbia Tribune reports all the overdoses were linked to a synthetic marijuana commonly known as K2, which is sold under several names.Police dont know the source of the substance.

Posted in Columbia