A ‘Bad Batch’ of Synthetic Weed Turned Part of Brooklyn into ‘Zombieland’

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The scene in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood on Tuesday afternoon resembled something from a bad horror movie. Dozens of people were seen convulsing, lying on the sidewalk, doubled over fire hydrants, and stuck frozen and contorted in strange positions. One bystander described it as “Zombieland.”

The small-scale zombie apocalypse was reportedly caused by the drug K2, the most common street name for synthetic marijuana. At least 33 people in Bed-Stuy’s Myrtle-Broadway area — a noisy intersection in the sprawling Brooklyn neighborhood, where trains constantly rattle over the elevated railway — were hospitalized after apparent overdoses.

K2 — also sold under an array of other names, including Spice, Green Giant, and iBlown — is basically potpourri that’s been sprayed with chemicals designed to mimic the effects of marijuana. The drug is very cheap, typically selling for around $1 per joint, but because manufacturers are constantly tweaking its chemical makeup to skirt US drug laws, the effects vary widely from batch to batch.

An investigation last summer by VICE’s Allie Conti explored how the drug ravages New York’s homeless population. She visited one homeless shelter in Brooklyn that placed more than a dozen emergency calls related to K2 consumption in just one day. In 2015, there were more than 6,000 K2-related visits to New York City’s emergency rooms. Two people died.

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