WASHINGTON -- Roughly 100 people have been transported to area hospitals in DC since Saturday for possible overdosing on K2, DC Fire and EMS said Wednesday night.
K2, also known as "spice", is a synthetic marijuana that is banned in the U.S.
DC Fire says they've seen a large uptick in K2-related emergency calls this week, particularly around homeless shelters in the District.
The most recent emergency response to issues with the drug was at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the intersection of E and 4th streets.
Eleven people were treated at one time in the area of 1 Judiciary Square earlier Wednesday, according to DC Fire.
DC Fire said four deaths since Saturday are also possibly the result of the use of the K2 drug, but will have to wait on toxicology results to confirm.
K2 is "a mixture of industrial chemicals intended to mimic the effects of THC, the naturally occurring active compound found in marijuana," according to the Center on Addiction. "The chemicals are sprayed on bits of dried plant material, packaged in colorful wrappers, nicknamed 'poison packets,' and sold under the guise of potpourri and herbal incense in local convenience stores, smoke shops and even online."
The use of the drug can lead to rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation and hallucinations.
A situation similar to this happened in July 2016. DC Fire encountered 597 patients with symptoms from possible K2 overdoses that month. Officials are hopeful we are not on track for the same scenario, but they are bracing for the possibility.
DC Fire says Mayor Muriel Bowser is working on coming up with a plan to educate about the possible effects of using illegal synthetic drugs like K2.