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Synthetic Cannabinoids

In mid-March 2018, IDPH began receiving reports of individuals who suffered severe bleeding and reported using synthetic cannabinoid products.

Synthetic cannabinoids are part of a group of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS). NPS are unregulated mind-altering substances that have become newly available on the market and are intended to produce the same effects as illegal drugs. Some of these substances may have been around for years but have reentered the market in altered chemical forms, or due to renewed popularity.

Individuals reported acquiring the contaminated synthetic cannabinoid products (i.e., K2, spice, synthetic marijuana, and legal weed) from convenience stores, dealers, and friends, in counties across the state.   

Cases of adverse reactions associated with illicit drug use are not required to be reported to IDPH.  After IDPH determined that the cause of the severe bleeding outbreak was linked to synthetic cannabinoid product use, the outbreak investigation concluded at the end of May. Although there may be future cases, IDPH will not report numbers.

Individuals who are unable to stop using synthetic cannabinoids can locate a substance use disorder provider or treatment facility through the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances at

If you have used any of these products, and start experiencing severe, unexplained bleeding or bruising, please have someone take you to the hospital immediately or call 911. Do not walk or drive yourself. Tell your health care providers about the possible link between your symptoms and synthetic cannabinoid use. 

As of May 30, 2018, IDPH had received reports of 164 cases in 15 counties in Illinois linked to an outbreak that began March 7, 2018. 

County Number of Cases
Chicago 40
Cook County 10
DuPage County 2
Fulton County 2
Kane County 1
Kankakee County 2
McLean County 1
Madison County 1
Mason County 2
Peoria County 35
Stark County 1
Stephenson County 1
Tazewell County 49
Will County 1
Winnebago County 9
Woodford County 7
Total 164
Cases by Age Group Number of Cases
15-24 30
25-34 64
35-44 38
45-54 21
55+ 11
Total 164

About Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made, mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices. They are sold for recreational drug use with claims they will provide the user the effects of cannabis. These products are also known as herbal or liquid incense and have brand names such as K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Genie, and Zohai, but may be packaged under other brand names also.

These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they are similar to chemicals found in the marijuana plant. Because of this similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called "synthetic marijuana" (or "fake weed"), and they are often marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug. In fact, they are not safe and may affect the brain much more powerfully than marijuana; their actual effects can be unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening.

Vitamin K

Clinical Management:  Questions about both inpatient and outpatient clinical management of patients with vitamin K dependent coagulopathy should be referred to the Illinois Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Access to Vitamin K:  IDPH has secured a large donation of oral Vitamin K and has currently distributed it to 2 Illinois based health care systems.  Patients with valid prescriptions for oral Vitamin K can bring their prescription to the following pharmacies to have their medication filled free of charge while supplies last.  Providers or healthcare facilities with more questions specific to accessing this Vitamin K can reach out to their Local Health Department.
Patients in the Peoria region: Patients in this area can bring their valid prescription to:

Medipark Pharmacy
420 NE Glen Oak Avenue, Suite 102
Peoria, Illinois 61603
p: (309) 655-3799 | f: (309) 655-3072
Patients in Chicagoland region: Patients in this area can bring their valid prescription to:

  1. Stroger Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy
    1901 W. Harrison Room 1130
    Chicago, IL 60612
    (312) 864-1608
  2. Oak Forest Health Center Pharmacy
    15900 S. Cicero Ave.
    Oak Forest, IL 60452
    (708) 633-4435
  3. Provident Outpatient Pharmacy
    430 E. 50th Pl.
    Chicago, IL 60615
    (312) 572-2964