A brand of synthetic marijuana marketed as "Crazy Clown" and "Herbal Madness" recently sent eight people to the hospital in Brunswick, Ga.
Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said three people had to be treated in intensive care, and five others were released. All the smokers were between 16 and 25 years of age.
The news was disturbing enough to prompt Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Schrader to issue a "heads up" to the media, warning people to be on the lookout for the synthetic drug.
"Just in case," Schrader said. "We've not identified any in our local stores."
Chattooga County deputies have arrested people in the past who've been under the influence of synthetic drugs, the names of which are constantly changing, Schrader said.
"I've had mothers call and complain about their children going to different stores and purchasing the different kinds of [synthetic drugs]," Schrader said.
They're marketed as "herbal incense," "bath salts" and "roll-your-own tobacco," according to the Georgia Department of Public Health, which also issued a news release in the wake of the Brunswick hospitalizations. It states that the public health department "is working closely with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to collect these products and remove them from store shelves."
Catoosa County Coroner Vanita Hullender hasn't seen any deaths from synthetic drugs, though a 16-year-old boy went into cardiac arrest after using some. Emergency responders came quickly and revived him, she said.
"I haven't seen synthetic marijuana in a while," Hullender said. "Not since the ban on synthetic marijuana."
Georgia banned synthetic marijuana in 2012, making its possession a felony punishable to one to 15 years in prison. The law was named Chase's Law in memory of Chase Corbitt Burnett, a 16-year-old honor student and soccer player found dead in a hot tub at his parent's Fayette County home after smoking the substance, according to Gov. Nathan Deal's office.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
Contact Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfree press.com or 42-757-6651.