A total of 3,089 overdose cases linked to the synthetic drug K2 were reported in Washington, D.C. between January and July this year, while the number was 1,353 over the same time period in 2018.
WAMU reported that the figure is based on data released by the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.
According to the Department, the K2 overdoses reported throughout the entire year of 2018 was 3,488. However, the city seems to be reaching that number before the end of 2019.
Out of the 3,488 K2 overdose cases in 2018, seven were reportedly fatal. This year’s death toll remained at two as of June.
“Reducing overdoses and saving lives is our highest priority, and we advance this effort through a robust interagency approach,” Kevin Donahue, D.C.’s Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, was quoted as saying by WAMU in a statement.
In September 2018, approximately 200 individuals in the District were found overdosed on K2 within a single week. A large portion of the overdose cases were reported around homeless shelters.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said last year that dozens of K2 overdoses addressed by emergency responders every day put a “significant strain on our entire public safety system.”
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham had also stated that the epidemic was creating a drain on Fire and EMS resources and police resources.
K2, which is a synthetic cannabinoid, is known for being much more effective than marijuana. These type of drugs are intended to be chemically similar to the THC found in organic marijuana. Producers spray the chemical substance onto plant matter to make it have a marijuana-like impact.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), K2 and other synthetic marijuana overdoses have spiked every year since 2010.
Ingestion of K2 causes symptoms such as giddiness, vomiting, sluggishness, lethargy, paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations or delusions, self-harming behaviors, suicidal thoughts or psychotic violence.