New Texas law could help with spike in synthetic marijuana

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Paramedics continue to treat patients suffering from bad reactions after using K2, also known as synthetic marijuana. Austin-Travis County EMS said they have treated more than 170 patients since this string of bad reactions started on May 29. Most of the cases are happening in the downtown area.

But problems with K2 are not limited to Austin, which is why state lawmakers responded this session with new rules that puts restrictions on K2.

Health care workers at University Medical Center Brackenridge are keeping track of the K2 cases as well. More and more of their patients are coming in with police escorts.

“…Sort of taking care of people who repeatedly make the wrong decision,” said said ER Director Chris Ziebell.

Every few weeks, Ziebell said they deal with a different strain, with different symptoms.

“We know how to handle it but we’d prefer we didn’t have to handle it. Especially when this is something that people are doing voluntarily on their own because they really don’t realize what they’re about to do,” Ziebell added.

“Drugs are drugs. It’s poison and it’s poison getting into the hands of our kids,” said Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix. His officers have arrested almost 50 people with synthetic drugs in the past year. “It’s not just an Austin problem, it’s not just a Central Texas problem. It’s a national problem.”

But lawmakers sent Mannix another tool. Starting in September, they widened the spectrum for illegal synthetic drugs in an attempt to catch up to the ever-changing chemical compounds.

“We no longer have to worry about, did they change a little piece of the chemical structure that later on they can go…no it wasn’t K2, it was something just a little bit different,” said Mannix.

Changes that no longer will be the difference between getting off free and guilty verdicts. This law takes effect Sept. 1.

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