SAN ANTONIO – First responders in San Antonio are seeing an alarming rise in people experiencing the effects of synthetic marijuana.
San Antonio Fire Department officials sent out a warning on Thursday about the drug that they say is now out in a new form and being sold on the streets of downtown San Antonio.
Dr. David A. Miramontes, medical director with the San Antonio Fire Department, said this is not the synthetic packaged drug you can find in convenience stores and it's not the traditional marijuana, which is less potent.
"The thing that we really need to push is that this is not marijuana," Miramontes said. "This is dangerous. Our kids and unsuspecting people who purchase this may not know what they're getting and get themselves in trouble really quick.”
San Antonio fire Chief Charles Hood reported that in just one day, on Jan. 26, the department responded to eight runs in a four-hour period, all experiencing known side effects of synthetic marijuana.
Those side effects include combative and psychotic behavior, stroke symptoms, seizures or even death.
Dealers on the street have been targeting the homeless population, but first responders are also warning parents about teens taking the drug and other non-suspecting customers.
"You are dealing with the homeless population, but the other concern is that we have so many people that are visiting our city that could potentially walk into a situation where they think they're buying a simple marijuana joint and they're getting something synthetically altered,” Hood said.
Michael Banks lives on the streets of San Antonio, and he said what he's been seeing is people believed to have smoked synthetic marijuana. He said the situation is scary.
"It's just how they act," Banks said. "People just lay there like they are zombies. They're dead or something, you know? It's spooky."