K2 synthetic drug blamed for mass overdose in Brooklyn; 33 hospitalized

"It's like a scene out of a zombie movie," one witness said.

Andrew V. Pestano

NEW YORK, July 13 (UPI) -- At least 33 people were hospitalized Tuesday morning after authorities in New York City responded to emergency calls of people overdosing on a synthetic drug in Brooklyn.

Police confirmed at least five people who were hospitalized had taken K2, a cheap synthetic cannabinoid. Witnesses told authorities they saw men smoking, vomiting and urinating. Some collapsed on the sidewalk and subway platforms.


"It's like a scene out of a zombie movie, a horrible scene," witness Brian Arthur said, The New York Times reports. "This drug truly paralyzed people."

The drug, considered synthetic marijuana, is also known as spice. Some stores in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and in other parts of Brooklyn sell it even though it was banned in New York City last year. At least 6,000 emergency room visits since 2015 in New York City were related to K2 use. Two deaths have been directly associated with the drug.

"Certain stores that sell it, they have guys that walk around and sell it because they know police are here watching the stores," Fin Perez, a self-proclaimed addict, told CBS New York. "So they got guys walking around, two to three streets away. Everyone knows who the guys are."

In May, officials announced that K2-related emergency room visits decreased about 85 percent due to legislation threatening business owners who sold K2 with closings, fines and jail time. The synthetic drug is most popular among homeless people, according to health officials.

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