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Police: Synthetic pot laced with opioid behind Connecticut mass overdose

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By Susan McFarland, UPI

Authorities say at least 71 people in Connecticut overdosed after smoking synthetic marijuana laced with what they believe was a powerful opioid.

The first overdoses were reported Tuesday evening at the New Haven Green park, near the campus of Yale University, but more victims later came from across the city, Police Chief Anthony Campbell said.

[post_ads]Some victims were found unconscious, while others were nauseous or lethargic. No deaths were reported but two people are seriously ill, authorities said.

Police believe the victims had smoked a synthetic cannabinoid, known as "K2," mixed with the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Authorities arrested Felix Melendez, 37, in connection to the suspected overdoses. Two others were also arrested, WSFB-TV reported. Details surrounding the arrests were not available.

New Haven Fire Chief John Alston said the event was largest concentration of overdose victims the department had experienced. He said at first, the drug Nalaxone -- used to treat narcotic overdoses -- appeared not to work, but later took effect when higher doses were administered.

The fire chief said one of the victims still had some of the marijuana, which was sent for for testing.

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

"Today's emergency is deeply troubling and illustrative of the very real and serious threat that illicit street drugs pose to health of individuals," Malloy said.

Drug overdoses are at epidemic proportions around the nation. The problem is widespread and considered by the Department of Health and Human Services a national public health emergency.

Last year, more than 72,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses, up 6.6 percent from the prior year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
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Of those totals, more than 40.000 died -- almost 30,000 from fentanyl.

In June, the House overwhelmingly passed a broad bipartisan bill, its largest effort to date, to fight the national opioid crisis.

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U.S. - U.S. Daily News: Police: Synthetic pot laced with opioid behind Connecticut mass overdose
Police: Synthetic pot laced with opioid behind Connecticut mass overdose
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