MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - After seeing a sharp spike in synthetic marijuana overdoses, Minneapolis police are making arrests in connection to the cases.
It was one of largest overdose spikes in recent memory in Hennepin County with 128 people overdosing on synthetic marijuana in just two months.
“They were seeing [...] a pattern here; we need to do something about it,” said Mike Trullinger of Hennepin County Medical Center.
It was Hennepin County’s paramedics that first noticed a trend. Most of the overdoses happened inside a few blocks radius near 16th Street E and Chicago Avenue. The users experienced a wide range of severe, life-threatening symptoms.
“Anxiety, paranoia, psychosis, periods of unconsciousness followed by periods were they run for a while and suddenly pass out again,” said Trullinger.
Medical experts say that synthetic marijuana targets the same receptors in the brain as real marijuana, but the reactions are often much more intense.
“There is no question that this is more dangerous than traditional marijuana,” said Dr. Jon Cole, Minnesota Poison Control.
As the overdoses piled up, Minneapolis police took a closer look, making six arrests this week near 16th and Chicago. Three now face felony drug charges.
“As this investigation continues we are hoping these arrests will reduce the overdoses that this area has seen,” said Corey Schmidt, Minneapolis Police Department spokesman.
It’s a problem showing no signs of going away. In the last year, statewide, there have been 177 recorded overdoses linked to synthetic marijuana. Often, it’s a cheaper option and easily found on the street, but it comes with potential consequences that can be life-changing.