Texas

At least 12 in Austin sickened by K2 synthetic marijuana

Medics in Austin have taken at least a dozen people from the intersection of East Sixth and Neches streets to treat them for symptoms related to the ingestion of the synthetic drug K2.
Medics in Austin have taken at least a dozen people from the intersection of East Sixth and Neches streets to treat them for symptoms related to the ingestion of the synthetic drug K2. Star-Telegram archives

At least a dozen people were taken to the hospital on Friday complaining of illness after using a synthetic form of marijuana called K2, according to emergency medical personnel from Austin-Travis County EMS, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The people were transported from the area of East Sixth and Neches streets, the Statesman reported.

At least five ambulances were used to transport those who were sick, although several other people refused transport, the Statesman reported.

K2 is a mixture of herbs, spices or shredded plant material typically sprayed with a synthetic compound similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The harmful effects of K2 were first reported in 2009, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Officials noted that the drug is not marijuana and contains chemicals called cannabimimetics. Poison center officials said they have received reports from emergency rooms that the effects have ranged from life-threatening to severe agitation, seizures, intense hallucinations and harmful thoughts.

Owners of the Gas Pipe head shop chain which had several North Texas locations were arrested in 2014 and face federal charges of conspiring to sell synthetic marijuana. The trials for Gerald “Jerry” Shults and his daughter, Amy Lynn Herrig, are pending.

In summer 2014, the Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth, a Camp Bowie Boulevard landmark owned by Shults and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was one of several North Texas properties seized in a federal crackdown on a Dallas-based synthetic-marijuana operation.

Prosecutors said employees of Shults’ Gas Pipe locations were selling and marketing K2 and Spice in early 2014. Federal documents list 20 other defendants along with Herrig and Shults.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3

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