Seven residents overdosed on K2 — a synthetic drug related to cannabis — and two overdosed on heroin on Feb. 1, according to Rick Fontana, director of New Haven Emergency Operations.
Five of the suspected K2 overdoses occurred in downtown New Haven. None of the overdoses were serious in nature, as they did not induce cardiac arrest or respiratory issues. Four of the overdoses happened within an hour of one another, similar to the string of overdoses on Jan 25. The chain of overdoses prompted Director of Yale Health Paul Genecin to write to students Friday evening, warning that “synthetic marijuana” compounds can cause severe problems such as life-threatening toxicity of multiple organs.
Fontana said that the K2 overdoses that occured on Feb. 1 were less severe than those that occurred late last month.
“These were more of erratic and bizarre behavior and not in the serious nature of slowing heart rate and cardiac arrest,” Fontana said.
Since K2 can contain different synthetic compounds, reactions from K2 on Feb. 1 were different than those late last month, Fontana said.
The people who overdosed on Thursday were between 30 and 40 years old, and some of those who overdosed were homeless, Fontana said.
Ward 1 Alder Hacibey Catalbasoglu ’19 posted a photograph about the overdose alert on Facebook, and told the News in an email that legislators need to support the legalization of marijuana if they hope to reduce the number of K2 overdoses.
“Unless we as legislators take a stand towards supporting the taxation and regulation of marijuana in our communities, we will continue to see unfortunate consequences that come from a system that disproportionately affects minority populations,” Catalbasoglu said.
Mayoral spokesperson Laurence Grotheer said New Haven’s Office of Emergency Management will continue to work with law enforcement, first responders and social services providers to address the public health issues related to drug use.
New Haven’s Office of Emergency Management is located at 200 Orange St.
Christina Carrafiell | firstname.lastname@example.org