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Is fake pot safe?
This is the question being asked by health officials in Wyoming. They have issued a warning to medical professionals, asking them to be on the lookout for certain symptoms. The state believes fake pot, a synthetic marijuana, may be "life-threatening."
The warning comes on the heels of an outbreak of kidney failure in the city of Casper, explains ABC News. Three people have been hospitalized and two others reported similar symptoms to hospital personnel earlier in the week.
Officials have not talked to these two patients, but the others are known to have used blueberry-flavored spice.
"Spice" and "K2" are amongst the various names for fake pot. The substance is made of plant-based material and is laced with a group of chemicals that mimic the effects of THC, ABC reports. The chemicals can cause high blood pressure, paranoia, convulsions and a host of other symptoms.
Fake pot use has been on the rise, according to Agence France Presse. Some believe fake pot is a safe alternative to marijuana, but the Drug Enforcement Administration disagrees. In 2011, the agency banned five chemicals used to make the substance. It renewed that ban just last week.
The product has also been banned in the U.K., Germany, Poland and France.
Manufacturers have gotten around the bans by using different chemicals. The product can then be sold in smoke shops around the world. There are no age restrictions.
Though the government does not think fake pot is safe, there has yet to be a nationwide ban on the product. It is being left up to states and localities.