More than a dozen children collapsed after vaping fake cannabis oil that contained the dangerous synthetic drug spice in Greater Manchester.
Authorities have issued a warning after testing CBD oil bottles that were used by the children at schools in Rochdale, Oldham and Bury in November and December.
The bottles were supposed to contain cannabidiol, a hemp-derived substance which is non-psychoactive and anti-inflammatory. CBD or cannabidiol is widely popular for its medicinal claims like treating anxiety, depression, insomnia, acute pain, muscle spasms, inflammation, etc.
In fact, it has become a regular product in many households. It is also a potent drug to alleviate the symptoms of life-threatening ailments like cancer, epilepsy, Tourette’s, and Alzheimer’s.
However, the market for cannabis oil is largely exploited by illicit retailers and businesses. There are not many guidelines that these CBD brands follow, nor do they have authentic products. However, with the array of products in the market, it has become relatively difficult to identify legal cannabis oil from the illicit one.
The bottles used at schools in Greater Manchester had a higher concentration of chemicals like Spice, a very dangerous drug. Experts have warned that it could have had serious consequences for young people and might even kill them.
There have been at least a dozen incidents like this, including 17 young people, since February. Earlier this month, a school in Oldham dialed 999 after a child experienced a severe seizure from vaping, while at another school there were some cases where they had to be treated by paramedics.
In November, a young child in Rochdale collapsed after reportedly being forced to vape cannabis oil, and in Bury, three school pupils were treated after they become unwell.
Three boys were arrested by the Greater Manchester Police for suspicion of possession or supply of controlled substances. After searching their homes, officials found several illegal vaping products.
According to an alert, about 30 samples from small bottles claiming to contain cannabis oil were tested in November and December. Several of these bottles contained Spice, while none contained cannabis oil or THC.
CBD is known to treat several diseases, from back pain to alleviating the symptoms of chemotherapy in cancer, cannabis oil is found to be highly effective and useful. In addition to this, THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana also helps to treat mental health conditions like seizures in epilepsy. While there’s research that supports the medicinal benefits of CBD and THC, there’s little known about the drug Spice.
Of the other 23 samples in the study, one contained such high levels of THC that it qualified as a class B drug. Although THC is legal up to a certain limit in some authorized products, it is not legal to sell products containing a higher concentration of THC.
Michael Linnell, the coordinator of the multi-agency Greater Manchester drug alerted the panel and said children were taking a big risk by vaping these products. Linnell said if they inhale spice, they are at high risk of a very bad reaction that they have already seen in at least a dozen occasions. Spice is a highly dangerous and potent drug that can be lethal, unpredictable and even fatal for people not used to taking it on a regular basis.
Professionals, youth services and schools who work with children across Greater Manchester have been asked to report any suspected cases. A senior lecturer at the University of York, Ian Hamilton, said that the results of these tests have confirmed how dangerous some of these vaping products are, the synthetic drugs found in these products can cause some serious psychological and physical harm to people who use them.
There is no way experienced or naive users of these products could determine what chemicals they contain and how they could impact users. And it might be too late for some. The usual side effects of Spice include confusion, panic attacks, irregular heartbeat, hallucinations, collapse, insomnia, and paranoia.
There were about 60 recorded deaths last year in Wales and England associated with synthetic cannabinoids, usually in combination with other drugs and alcohol. Deputy Mayor for policing and crime, Bev Hughes, said the incidents were horrifying and worrisome. Hughes added that it is important to spread information about these illicit products and how they contain dangerous chemicals and can have serious harm.
Greater Manchester Police’s chief superintendent Paul Savill said that suppliers of these dangerous and illegal vaping products are targeting young kids and children because they are vulnerable. Savill said they need people to help them identify these suppliers and bring them to justice.