The calls started rolling in about people at Hermann Park who appeared to have "altered states of mind" around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Houston Fire Department Captain Ruy Lozano told reporters.
The victims were spotted in an area of the park so notorious for synthetic marijuana users that it's nicknamed "Kush Corner." And when firefighters showed up, Lozano said, they found packets of the fake pot, commonly known as kush, scattered around more than a dozen people who needed hospitalization.
By 6 p.m., paramedics had found 16 people in Hermann Park — many of them homeless, Luzano said — who had apparently overdosed on the drug and were taken away in ambulances.
The Harris County Attorney's Office and the Texas Attorney General's Office have been cracking down on head shops or convenience stores that sell synthetic marijuana for this very reason.
Officials will likely cite the incident in the next lawsuit they file against a local Houston shop selling the drug — a dangerous combination of herbs and chemicals that is actually nothing like marijuana. According to the DEA, severe side effects can include seizures, psychotic episodes or random outbursts of violence. Lozano said yesterday that the heat only makes side effects worse and that many of the patients were dehydrated.
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The county attorney and the attorney general most recently obtained a temporary injunction against Good Timez Boutique and Smoke Shop, which sold packets of kush claiming it was "not for human consumption," prosecutors said. Often, kush is branded as "potpourri" or "incense" and sold in brightly colored packages with comic-book-like graphics and catchy names such as "Galactic Head Trip" or "Klimax."
This is the ninth lawsuit the agencies have filed against a local smoke shop, attempting to eradicate the dangerous synthetic drug. Earlier this month, Jams Smoke Shop was ordered to pay $878,000 in penalties after losing one such suit.
Other bizarre incidents in the Houston area that county attorneys blame on synthetic marijuana in these lawsuits include: an incident where two men got angry about finding a piece of cold chicken on their neighbor's lawn during a barbecue, then attacked and shot at those neighbors; another in which a man allegedly smoked a "bad batch" of the drug, then stabbed, beat and choked his girlfriend to death during an argument; and a third when a man suspected of being high on kush ran over a woman walking on the sidewalk, then continued driving and rammed into another driver stopped at a red light.
Looks like they have another to add to their collection.