Mass K2 Overdose in Bed-Stuy Dubbed A Zombie Apocalypse
The scene at the border of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick neighborhoods Tuesday afternoon looked like something out of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Dozens of people were slumped over in the streets, while some were staggering and bracing themselves against buildings–unable to stand up straight. The bizarre behavior was the result of a mass overdose on K2, also known as synthetic marijuana or spice, at the corner of Broadway and Myrtle–the epicenter of the drug’s epidemic was dubbed “Zombieland” by residents and cops.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 13, 2016
According to the New York Times, a spokesman for the Fire Department said eight people were taken from the Stockton Street area to Woodhull Medical Center suffering from “altered mental states,” lethargy and respiratory issues around 9:40 AM. Others were found in the surrounding area.
— Aidan Gardiner (@AidanGardiner) July 13, 2016
After the initial call, more and more people began to surface in the intersection exhibiting erratic behavior. Some were confrontational, fighting police, while others appeared to be paralyzed by the drug’s effects.
Brian Arthur, 38, streamed the scene live on Facebook. Warning, the video contains some vulgar language.
K2 has quickly grown in popularity because not only is it addictive and offers a high similar to marijuana, but it’s cheap–costing as little as $1 a joint. But it isn’t a new drug.
Spice consumption was popular first in the U.K. in 2004, and then later became prevalent in the U.S. in 2008. It can be extremely dangerous because it is technically made of synthetic cannabinoids, or chemicals designed to mimic the effect of THC on the brain, and users can never be certain which chemicals they are actually getting in any given dose.
Smoking the drug can lead to slew of adverse side effects, which include: kidney failure, arrested heart rate, high blood pressure, loss of consciousness, violent behavior, nausea, vomiting, tremors, seizures, hallucinations, paranoia, agitation, anxiety, and even death, according to the state Department of Health.
New York, like many other cities, has banned the manufacture and sale of K2, but authorities have failed to crack a dent in the growing epidemic. Many convenience stores and bodegas have been caught selling the drug, but lackluster punishments have had a minimal effect on stopping the practice. Individual clerks caught selling face only a fine of up to $500 and 15 days in jail.
New York’s mass overdose Tuesday cast a necessary spotlight on K2–which has been linked to recent surges in hospitalizations and calls to poison control centers–but it’s clear NYC authorities are struggling to clean up the drug hotspot.