Georgia officials have sent out an emergency alert to doctors and physician assistants about a potentially lethal substance sold in convenience stores and other shops.
The substance is sold under the names “Crazy Clown” or “Herbal Madness Incense,” the Department of Public Health said late Friday. It is marketed as “herbal incense,” bath salts, or “roll-your-own” tobacco.
Public Health said Friday evening that in the previous 24 hours, at least eight people in southeastern Georgia had been hospitalized because of the substance. Some of them had been admitted to intensive care and were on life support, officials said.
The agency said there are indications that the chemicals or ingredients have been altered to be more dangerous. The substance is most commonly smoked or burned in a small bowl and inhaled.
When ingested or inhaled, the neurotoxin can render a person immobile or unconscious and cause severe cardiac problems.
Public Health officials said first responders have reported unusual strength, agitation and combativeness in some users. Some users have
been rendered immobile, displayed abnormal reflexes or no reflexes at all, and in some cases lost consciousness.
Symptoms may appear almost immediately after a person ingests or inhales the substance, or the symptoms may be delayed until more of the product is taken in.
The Department of Public Health said it is working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to collect these products and remove them from store shelves.
The state has attempted crackdowns on synthetic marijuana and herbal incense in the past, and last year Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law prohibiting “all forms of synthetic marijuana.”
But some manufacturers change the composition of these products slightly to try to get around the wording of the law and keep the products on store shelves.