Published: Mon, August 20, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Man arrested after overdoses at Connecticut park

Man arrested after overdoses at Connecticut park

John Parker, 53, was taken into custody Wednesday and was discovered with more than 30 bags of K2, the synthetic marijuana linked to more than 100 overdoses, police said.

"Testing done today in NY by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency confirms that samples of the substance that caused today's overdose cases on the New Haven Green are K-2, a potent, synthetic drug that induces marijuana-like effects", said Director of Communications for New Haven, Laurence Grotheer.

CBS said the victims, covering a range of ages, experienced "a multitude of signs and symptoms [including] vomiting, hallucinating, high blood pressure, shallow breathing, semi-conscious and unconscious states", said Rick Fontana, director of the city's Office of Emergency Operations.

"Do not come down to the Green and purchase this K2", Anthony Campbell, the New Haven police chief, told WVIT-TV.

The AP notes, "New Haven first responders were called to a similar overdose outbreak on the Green on July 4, when more than a dozen people were sick from synthetic marijuana".

Paramedics and police officers assist a man who has just been administered a dose of Narcan for an apparent opioid overdose in Drexel, Montgomery County, Ohio, on August 3, 2017.

"We're getting another call", Alston told reporters, some of whom began chasing after medical workers as they rushed to treat the affected person.

In May, for example, more than 50 people in Brooklyn overdosed on K2, none fatally, the Associated Press reports.

Local and federal authorities also arrested two other men but are still investigating whether they played any roles in the overdoses.

Kenneth Driffin, who works with addicts and the homeless in New Haven, said he is planning a public forum on K2 and hoped to convince officials to attend.

"It is very hard to predict what the response is", Douglas says. Officials weren't certain whether Thursday's overdoses involved the same batch of "K2" synthetic marijuana.

Authorities believe the drug that caused the overdoses is K-2, a synthetic marijuana.

Three overdoses took place on Tuesday night, with dozens of others happening on Wednesday.

PEOPLE has contacted the New Haven Police Department for comment.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the substance behind the overdoses is highly unsafe and must be avoided.

The rise in deaths is thought to be from the increased use of opioids, and that the drugs themselves are more deadly, reports the New York Times. So far, there have been few scientific studies of the effects of synthetic cannabinoids on the human brain, but researchers do know that some of them bind more strongly than marijuana to the cell receptors affected by THC, and can produce much stronger effects.

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