Dozens OD on synthetic marijuana in New Haven, Connecticut

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News 12 Connecticut's John Craven met with experts Thursday to discuss K2, a synthetic form of marijuana that may have been the cause of dozens of recent overdoses in New Haven.

He says one of the victims still had some of the drug, which was sent off to a lab for testing.

K2, or "spice" as it is called on the street, is usually plant material sprayed with psychoactive substances and sold in small, colorful packets.

Police said there's no way to know if this string of overdoses is over.

Three people were treated since midnight, according to New Haven Emergency Operations Director Rick Fontana, while a WVIT-TV crew saw emergency teams treating two people on New Haven Green on Thursday morning, including one person taken away on a stretcher. Officials weren't certain whether Thursday's overdoses involved the same batch of "K2" synthetic marijuana.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the state Department of Public Health and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services assisted in New Haven in the midst of the overdoses. "The effects did not last long, and they were able to discharged in most cases from the hospital fairly soon, which meant they were able to go back the green to seek another high".

One of the admitted patients tested positive for fentanyl in his toxicology screen but it isn't clear if the person had ingested that opioid earlier, Fontana said.

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Police said they arrested a man believed to be connected to at least some of the overdoses.

Authorities described chaotic scenes at the park near Yale University, with people falling unconscious at the same time.

New Haven police, Campbell added, will remain a visible force in and round the village green, "to make sure anyone else that would think about filling the gap that has been opened up by the arrest of these three offenders would be deterred". The city mounted a mass-casualty response, including fire, police, ambulances, emergency management, city health department and Yale New Haven Hospital personnel, Fontana said. Three of those who overdosed are still in critical condition. Other victims reported paying for the drugs. Most of those overdoses also happened at the New Haven green, the wire service said.

Today New Haven was on the front lines of a coast-to-coast struggle to combat the public health menace of illicit distribution and use of what appear to be tainted street drugs ...

More than a dozen people overdosed on synthetic marijuana at the same park July 4.

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.

The slew of overdoses comes as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a preliminary report on Wednesday on the record number of American drug deaths.

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