4 People Overdose at Scene of Mass O.D. on Synthetic Drugs

Four people overdosed on an unknown drug at the largest homeless shelter in the District on Tuesday, less than two weeks after a mass overdose there on synthetic drugs.

D.C. Fire and EMS responded to the Community for Creative Non-Violence shelter at 425 2nd St. NW shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday. 

Several additional people may have overdosed, authorities said. Four people had been taken to the hospital as of 4 p.m. EMS units remained on the scene to evaluate others.

A Fire and EMS spokesperson described the situation as similar to a June 5 incident at the same shelter, when 11 people overdosed on a type of synthetic marijuana called bizarro.

"They were using that train wreck," a man walked out of the shelter saying, apparently referring to the synthetic drugs also known as K2 and spice.

On Monday, D.C. officials announced authorities will crack down on the sale of synthetic drugs and focus on the prosecution of suppliers.

D.C. and Maryland officials have seen a sharp increase in overdoses from kinds of synthetic drugs, and officials say it is likely many overdoses have gone unreported.

The drug can cause aggressive behavior and hallucinations, similar to the effects of PCP. The Maryland Poison Center said users can suffer heart attacks and seizures.

"When synthetic marijuana hit the market, it made you euphoric. Now it's making you more likely to be psychotic," Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the D.C. Department of Health, said Monday.

The District is seeing a jump in overdoses from synthetic drugs, D.C. Fire and EMS Acting Chief Gregory Dean said.

"Since April, we've seen a spike," he said. "I think we saw like 97 in April, 204 patients in June, and through June 12 we've seen over 140."

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