Volume XI, Issue XXVI - April 2018

From: Danielle L. Kirby, Director
Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse


A Smart Alert issued last month alerted you to several individuals experiencing adverse reactions to using synthetic cannabinoids which were believed to be laced with rat poison. Since March 7, 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has recorded over 125 cases, including 3 deaths.

Adverse effects include coughing up blood, blood in the urine, severe bloody nose, bleeding gums, and/or internal bleeding. Numerous have tested positive for brodifacoum, a lethal anticoagulant often used in rat poison. Anyone who has a reaction to synthetic cannabinoids, such as severe bleeding, should call 911 or have someone take them to the emergency department immediately. Treatment is effective when provided early.

Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made, mind-altering chemicals that are sprayed onto dried plant material. They can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized in e-cigarettes and other devices. These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant. The health effects from using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable, harmful, and deadly. Synthetic cannabinoids are found across Illinois and the U.S. in places like convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, and online.

In order to assist with getting the word out, treatment providers are encouraged to post information in areas where you see clients/patients, reach out to your community and share with your networks. Funded providers can bill for these services using Community Intervention dollars. Prevention providers are also encouraged to share this threat widely across community stakeholders, coalitions, schools, parents, and youth. Prevention providers are encouraged to provide information to individuals and make referrals to treatment providers when identifying individuals that could benefit from services.

Please see the IDPH webpage for updates on the outbreak, as well as infographics that can be posted and websites that can be shared, at: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis/synthetic-cannabinoids.

Questions about the use of Community Intervention dollars may be directed to your contract manager.