Emergency responders in New Haven, Conn. are dealing with over 80 overdose cases from a synthetic marijuana that authorities said was passed out in a local park.
They found dozens of people who had overdosed on the synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, on Wednesday morning on the New Haven Green, near the Yale University campus. 25 of the overdose cases came in that morning during a three-hour time span, officials told ABC News.
Over the next two days, that number swelled to over 80. Officials expect that more will come in as people who saved the K2 for later use take the drug.
“It’s very reminiscent of a mass casualty incident,” New Haven Office of Emergency Management Director Rick Fontana told the New Haven Register.
Most victims were sent to the hospital, while some declined to undergo additional care. One victim did not respond to Naloxone, the drug used to treat overdoses, when they were injected at the scene and is “very sick,” Fontana said in a press release. Otherwise, the other patients are not in life-threatening condition.
Some of the patients had fentanyl, the highly addictive opioid, in their system. Several had been treated at the hospital two or more times after they went back to the park and took the K2 again.
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New Haven Police have arrested three people in connection with the case, and the investigation is currently ongoing, New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell said in a press conference.
One of the three suspects allegedly did not charge people for the K2 and was “just handing it out,” Campbell said, possibly to start a clientele. Other victims reported paying for the drugs.
Campbell alleged that two of the suspects are known for selling K2 and have been arrested in the past. Their charges, if convicted, are not known at this time.
PEOPLE has contacted the New Haven Police Department for comment.
The overdoses came as a dire new report from the Centers for Disease Control on Wednesday showed that drug overdoses killed around 72,000 people in the U.S. in 2017, a record-breaking rise of about 10 percent.
The rise in deaths is thought to be from the increased use of opioids, and that the drugs themselves are more deadly, reports the New York Times. Overdose deaths are now higher than the highest yearly death totals from H.I.V., car crashes or guns.
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