Earlier this year, paramedics arrived at a street corner in Brooklyn, New York, to find over two dozen people staggering around in what looked like a scene right out of “The Walking Dead.”
Several had passed out on the road while some were just lying there with their bodies twitching abnormally. Those who were still somewhat active, the emergency workers and bystanders described them in being a “zombie-like” state.
Initial reports claimed at least 33 people hadoverdosed after smoking a synthetic drug misleadingly marketed as fake pot. Eighteen were taken to area hospitals for emergency treatment.
The incident took place near a subway station on Myrtle Avenue and Broadway, on the border of Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant, which has since been dubbed the “zombie corner.”
However, after months of investigation, researchers have identified the exact compound that caused the mass intoxication.
The lab analysis of theurine and blood samplesfrom eight affected men revealed evidence of a synthetic cannabinoid that goes by the street name AK-47 24 Karat Gold. As the New York Times reports, it isalmost 85 times more potent than marijuana.
A pharmaceutical company Pfizer originally developed the gold synthetic – otherwise known as AMB-FUBINACA.
“What we're talking about are thousands of different synthetic drugs that since 2008 have been put together for their psychoactive effects in clandestine labs all over China,”explained study author, Roy Gerona, who works as a clinical chemist at the University of California, San Francisco.
“Originally, some were investigated by scientists for their potential pain-relieving effects, but then abandoned, either because they didn't work or they weren't safe.”
Not only did the drug instigate slow response time and blank stares, it essentially altered the mental status of the users.
This discovery has opened a new window into the dark world of designer drugs.
The study claimed the drug was being sold as a derivative of marijuana.
“Some have chemical compounds that are scheduled [as illegal]. Some do not. But either way, they in no structural or medicinal way contain the properties of what is found in marijuana,”Gerona added. “You basically have no idea what you're taking.”
The drug epidemic in the United States is growing worse with each passing day. In fact, drugs have become the leading cause of accidental death in the country, killing more people than car accidents and guns.
Thumbnail and Banner Image Credits: Reuters