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Concord and Manchester police report spike in synthetic pot overdoses

The Concord police have responded to at least three suspected overdoses from synthetic marijuana since Tuesday, a sudden spike that comes as authorities in Manchester struggle to combat a similar, albeit larger, jump.

Lt. Timothy O’Malley said yesterday that the department had received three reports within 24 hours of people suffering from symptoms often linked to the drug, known commonly as spice. One of the incidents involved a 15-year-old girl and the other two involved men ages 47 and 18.

Each of the individuals was treated and they have recovered, O’Malley said.

The Manchester police have been responding to a surge in overdoses and overdose-like symptoms since Monday, according to officials. Sgt. Brian O’Keefe said the department has handled at least 34 cases so far, and that many of the victims reported ingesting the same product: bubble gum-flavored Smacked.

O’Keefe said none of the overdoses were fatal, and that many of the victims displayed similar symptoms: lethargic, nonresponsive, dipping in and out of consciousness.

“They’re just totally zombified,” O’Keefe said. “It’s like something I’ve never seen.”

Spice is legally sold as incense, and it’s not advised for human consumption. But the product – a mixture of herbs and spices typically sprayed with chemical additives – is often smoked, producing a high similar to marijuana. The effects, though, can be variable, sometimes leading to paranoia, panic attacks, hallucination, numbness, vomiting and seizures.

Medical officials say the drug is difficult to track because manufacturers constantly change its formula to skirt regulations.

O’Malley said the Concord police are unaware of any stores in the city that still sell the drug. He said businesses were advised last year as to its dangers, and that undercover officers making routine sweeps last week were unable to find it on shelves.

O’Malley did not know whether any of the Concord victims ingested the same brand and variety as those in Manchester. He said the first victim, the 47-year-old, was found about 5 p.m. Tuesday on Garvins Falls Road. The 15-year-old girl was found later that night, about 10:30, in the Heights. The 18-year-old man was found yesterday about 9:15 a.m., he said.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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