In Franklin County, Florida, five inmates are back behind bars after being hospitalized due to suffering severe reactions from smoking synthetic marijuana. A sixth inmate remains in intensive care. Corrections officers failed to find the contraband on an older woman they booked for a different charge on Saturday. By Monday, six inmates were convulsing, vomiting and experiencing hallucinations from the potent chemical cocktail called “K2”.
On Monday, Franklin County law enforcement agents arrested a woman for allegedly smuggling contraband into a Florida correctional facility.
Despite conducting a strip-search of the 56-year-old woman, corrections officers failed to find the synthetic marijuana.
According to sources, another inmate subsequently helped the woman remove a package of synthetic marijuana from a body cavity. The pair then distributed the drugs to at least six inmates in the facility.
Shortly thereafter, six inmates began suffering from severe vomiting, hallucinations, and convulsions. Corrections officers rushed all six to the hospital on Monday.
Five of the inmates received treatment and were back in the jail on Tuesday. But a sixth inmate had such severe reactions that doctors had to life-flight her to an intensive care unit in Tallahassee. She remains in intensive care.
Synthetic marijuana does not grow or occur naturally. In fact, the drug isn’t a cannabis product at all.
Instead, synthetic marijuana is a chemical analog of natural cannabis, imitating the structure of THC. The synthetic THC cannabinoids bind to the same receptors as their natural counterpart and are also capable of producing a euphoric high.
But synthetic cannabinoids have a much higher affinity than plant cannabinoids. As a result, synthetic cannabinoids can have an effective potency anywhere from two to one hundred times stronger than natural THC.
And due to their potency, synthetic cannabinoids have a bad reputation for inducing serious side effects. Users have reported chest pain and vomiting, vision loss, high blood pressure and increased heart rate, headaches, agitation and even psychotic episodes.
Prisons and jails, however, are especially vulnerable to the damage these drugs can cause. Since urine tests struggle to detect them, synthetic cannabinoids are popular among inmates who face routine screenings.
The prohibition on marijuana also contributes to synthetic marijuana use, since the latter is often easier to obtain.
It’s not just inmates who smuggle K2 into America’s jails and prisons. In March, a Louisiana correctional officer busted for smuggling synthetic weed into a county jail is now behind bars himself. The officer reportedly attempted to smuggle the drugs inside of potato chip bags.
Older inmates attempting to sneak K2 inside the clink aren’t uncommon either. In Memphis, a grandmother is behind bars for trying to smuggle synthetic weed, also using bags of chips. Often, users are unaware of the serious risks and dangers of synthetic marijuana — or, they simply have no alternative.
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