by: Tom Regan Updated:
ATHENS, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has learned a second death in Georgia has been attributed to synthetic marijuana.
Georgia's chief medical examiner, Dr. Kris Sperry, shared with Channel 2's Tom Regan his conclusions on what caused the death of 26-year-old Kelvin Melton.
The Athens resident was found dead on the bathroom floor of his apartment on Feb. 20. Sperry said synthetic marijuana was found nearby and in the victim's blood. The medical examiner concluded the chemicals in the drug caused Melton's heart to beat rapidly and out of control resulting in cardiac arrest and death.
"The toxic effect of the drug, of the chemicals, the electrical rhythm that makes the heart beat so fast it begins to deteriorate and with that, the heart will fail rapidly," said Sperry.
In March, a 16-year-old Peachtree City student drowned in his family’s hot tub after smoking synthetic marijuana. The medical examiner ruled the drug caused Chase Burnett to lose consciousness and slip underwater. But Sperry said the latest case is different than the first.
"It's the second one that's been linked, and it's the first one here where we can say, unequivocally, the death was caused directly by the toxic effect of the drug," said Sperry.
Sperry described the compounds in synthetic marijuana as poison. He also said two new formulations of the drug were added Wednesday to the list of compounds banned in Georgia.