UP to five people were rushed to Orange hospital after smoking synthetic marijuana last week.
Orange health professionals are gravely concerned after a spike in the use of the drug in Orange.
The drug can cause high blood pressure, a faster heartbeat, heart attack, asthma attack, psychosis, anxiety and hallucination.
Synthetic marijuana is a potpourri-like substance that mimics the effects of smoking cannabis, but the product is produced in laboratories.
Various types of synthetic marijuana can be purchased legally in Australia and it is marketed online as incense.
Intensive care paramedic Matt Pickering said he was worried the drug was becoming more popular with people in Orange.
“This stuff could kill you,” he said.
“It could cause heart attack and stroke, particularly if you already have some sort of cardiovascular illness, it will definitely kill you.”
The drug is often referred to as spice, kronic, k2, blueberry haze and blaze.
Mental health drug and alcohol services Orange region manager Adrian Fahy said the most dangerous part about the drug was that nobody knew exactly what it contained.
He said quite often the drug contained different cannabinoids that could cause a range of different health problems.
People choose to use synthetic cannabis because they believe it does not show up on a urine test for drugs.
However, Dr Fahy said while it may not register on standard drug tests, there were ways to test for the substance.
“We can test for the metabolites in the urine and we can test in other ways,” he said.
“People think it’s safe and it’s not safe.”
People take the drug to mimic the effects of cannabis, but Dr Fahy said quite often it could have the opposite effect.
“They think if it’s commercially available then it’s not bad for me. They’re wrong,” he said.
Dr Fahy said people smoked marijuana to get a calm, mellow high but the synthetic drug could cause people to become extremely agitated.
He said he had a few clients that used the synthetic drug and they purchased it online.
“Anybody who is considering taking any substance needs to be extremely cautious,” Dr Fahy said.
“People need to think twice about consumption of any drug whether it be legal or illegal.”
Facts about synthetic cannabis
* It looks like potpourri and is often marketed as incense.
* Users roll the substances in paper and smoke it like a cigarette.
* Synthetic cannabis is designed to mimic the effects of marijuana.
* The drug can cause heart attack, stroke, vomiting, hallucination, anxiety attacks and asthma attacks.
* It is a shorter, stronger “high” than regular marijuana.
* People buy it online for about $20 for a packet of about three grams.
* Some types are legal in Australia. Once the government bans one type, makers change the chemical compound and it becomes legal.