Synthetic pot use linked to kidney damage

by: Tom Regan Updated:


ATLANTA - A national study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found at least 16 people were hospitalized with acute kidney injury after smoking synthetic cannabinoids.

"Our study is just one example of the unanticipated, unexpected and very serious and potentially lethal consequences attributed to spice or K2 product use that we didn't know about before our study was conducted," said CDC toxicologist Dr. Michael Schwartz.

Schwartz showed the findings of his investigation to Channel 2's Tom Regan. He said patients who suffered kidney damage were from six states, and most between the ages of 15 and 33. None had pre-existing kidney conditions, and experienced symptoms including abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting within a day or two after smoking the drugs. In some, the onset of the symptoms occurred within hours after ingesting cannibinoid.

"In the 16 cases we studied, five of the cases did require dialysis for a short period of time. Their kidney damage was fairly significant. We found an association with the use of these products, but what actually causes the damage to the kidney we don't know. That's under investigation," said Schwartz.

The latest findings on the dangers of synthetic marijuana come as no surprise to the father of Dakota Dyer. The 14-year-old ended his life in March of last year after smoking the drug. His father said he's determined to stop the sale of the drugs.

"Prevent these merchants of deaths. I call them narco terrorists from poisoning and killing our kids," said Lance Dyer.

Schwartz believes it is a misnomer to refer to synthetic cannibinoids as synthetic pot.

He said it is a marketing ploy by manufacturers of the chemicals that fails to underscore the dangers, that now include organ damage.

"It serves as a pretty good example you take your life into your hands when you use these products," said Schwartz.