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Public Health Alert: Synthetic Cannabinoids Are Dangerous And Illegal

Wed May 9, 2018


The DuPage County Health Department is joining officials throughout Illinois to provide this warning to store owners, employees, and potential customers about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids linked to an outbreak since March 7, 2018.

As of May 9, 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received reports of 164 cases*, including four deaths*. Cases report using synthetic cannabinoid products before suffering from severe bleeding. Several of those affected have tested positive for brodifacoum, a lethal anticoagulant often used as a rodenticide, or rat poison.

*Numbers are provisional and subject to change; IDPH will update the information every Wednesday by 1:30pm for the duration of the outbreak.

The DuPage County Health Department continues to work with IDPH to investigate these cases, and has issued alerts to medical, dental, and educational professionals on the outbreak. Synthetic cannabinoids are found throughout Illinois and across the country in convenience stores, smoke shops, gas stations, individual drug dealers, or online as incense or natural herbal products. Arrests have been made in Chicago in connection with synthetic cannabinoids, and additional locations could be implicated.

Synthetic cannabinoids are hundreds of different unregulated, illegal products that are manufactured and sold. These products are known as: fake weed, K2, spice, Kush, Kronik, and other names. They may be sold as liquids to be used in e-cigarettes and other devices, and are also marketed as herbal or liquid incense. These chemicals are sprayed on dried plant material so it can be smoked.

Although incorrectly believed to be a relatively safe alternative to marijuana, the DuPage County Health Department wants you to know that anyone using synthetic cannabinoids can experience health effects that can be unpredictable, harmful, and can cause death. Other symptoms include hallucinations, seizures, breathing problems, heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

Anyone using synthetic cannabinoids and experiencing severe bleeding or bruising should call 911, or have someone take them to a hospital emergency department immediately.

Please call the DuPage County Health Department to report a suspect or known case at 630-221-7553. To contact the Illinois Poison Center, call 1-800-222-1222. Ongoing updates are available at


Click here to download a printable version of the
Public Health Alert (Dated April 13, 2018)