CALIFORNIA (WITI) — A 19-year-old from California is dead — after he smoked just one hit of synthetic marijuana.
Connor Eckhardt’s parents spoke with FOX6’s sister station, KTLA, saying they want to prevent what happened to Connor from happening to someone else.
Eckhardt inhaled one hit of dried herbs that had been sprayed with chemicals to cause a marijuana-like high — according to his parents.
“He gave into (peer pressure) — thinking that it was okay, it was somehow safe — and one hit later, he goes to sleep and never wakes up,” Connor’s father, Devin Eckhardt told KTLA.
Connor quickly slipped into a coma and experienced brain swelling.
Synthetic marijuana has been labeled incense, potpourri and herbal smoking blend — and it has been sold over-the-counter with brand names like K2 and Spice.
The products feature dried herbs and spices that have been sprayed with chemicals that cause a marijuana-type high when smoked. The drugs, which are sold in legal retail outlets, are often labeled “not for human consumption.”
Despite laws prohibiting the sale of synthetic marijuana, the products remain widely available.
According to the Los Angeles Times, emergency rooms in the Colorado area noticed a sudden surge in admissions related to synthetic marijuana this year — with symptoms including altered mental status, irregular heartbeat and seizures.
The Los Angeles Times reports some patients had to be admitted to intenstive care units.
“You can buy designer drugs of abuse at convenience stores and on the Internet. People may not realize how dangerous these drugs can be — up to 1,000 times stronger binding to cannabis receptors when compared to traditional marijuana,” Dr. Andrew Monte told the Los Angeles Times.
Connor Eckhardt’s organs were donated, and a Facebook page has been created to carry on his memory and warn others about the dangers of synthetic marijuana.