EMSA: 5 More Transported With Possible K2 Overdoses; Week's Total Now 24
TULSA, Oklahoma - EMSA said in a noon Wednesday news release it had transported three more patients from downtown Tulsa who were exhibiting symptoms related to the use of K2 -- a potent and illegal synthetic drug.
All three were adult men and two were taken to the hospital in fair condition, EMSA said.
About an hour later, an EMSA spokesperson confirmed with News On 6 another patient -- a 15-year-old girl who goes to Central High School -- was taken to a hospital about 1:30 p.m. with similar symptoms, but did not say if it was related to the synthetic substance.
EMSA responded to another patient around 3 p.m., an adult female who was transported in fair condition.
Later Wednesday night, crews responded to another cast just after 8:00 p.m. EMSA said the patient was not transported to the hospital, but was taken into police custody. They then responded to another subject and transported that person to the hospital.
EMSA on Tuesday took 19 patients to the hospital for possible K2 overdoses, bringing the total for both days to 24. Nine of those patients collapsed downtown, outside of the Iron Gate Soup Kitchen.
10/21/2015 Related Story: Three Arrested In Connection To Tulsa K2 Overdoses
Tulsa police have arrested 29-year-old Bamf Hunter, believed to be the dealer, for possession with intent to distribute. Also arrested was Thomas Colishaw, 21, for possession, public intoxication and larceny.
Police also served a warrant at the Phillips 66 convenience store at 5425 East 11th Street where officers said the two men bought the K2. They say 47-year-old Abdur Rahim who works at the store and also was arrested. Officers also seized a large amount of synthetic substances from the store.
An additional arrest was made on Wednesday. Police said Victor Matthews was one of the men taken to a hospital the day before and had what appeared to be K2 on his person. When officers saw Matthews walking around downtown on Wednesday, they arrested him.
Tulsa police say the substance in question is one of the most toxic forms of synthetic marijuana. The products claim to produce marijuana-like high, but police and users say it is nothing like marijuana. Instead, it causes reactions more closely related to LSD or PCP, police said. K2 can cause hallucinations, paranoia, heart palpitations, elevated heart rate, sweating, rage, seizures, vomiting, blurry vision, stroke and even death.
Oklahoma has banned nearly 300 synthetic variations of drugs to date, classified the components as Schedule I drugs, and made first-time K2 possession a felony. But in the rapidly moving market, when one variation of K2 or "spice" is banned, manufacturers just alter their recipe, perpetuating the cycle, police say.
"That's the thing with K2, people need to understand, one time you try it and it could kill you,” TPD Narcotics Cpl. Mike Griffin said.
Griffin said part of the problem with making arrests is the constantly changing “recipes,” plus there's not a street test for K2 like there is for meth and cocaine.
"If I was to stop you with packets I believed were K2, I can't test it and arrest you,” he said. “I send it to a lab, get the results, then get a warrant for you and arrest you at a later time, the whole legal process is different than for other drugs."
K2 is a huge problem among teenagers and also the homeless. Shelters started seeing K2 in 2008 and it's gotten a lot worse. It's a tough issue, because shelters want to show compassion, but K2 creates a huge safety problem.
John 3:16 Mission doesn't allow people on K2 in their shelter anymore.
"We put people out for a period of time who use K2 until we can confirm they're clean,” the mission’s Steve Whitaker said.
Police said lawmakers can change all the laws they want, but the reality is, as long as there's a demand for these types of drugs, there always will be a supply.