CBSN

Florida sees spike in Spice synthetic marijuana overdoses

Synthetic marijuana, often called Spice or K2, has sickened several dozen people in the St. Petersburg, Florida, area in recent weeks. Police told CBS affiliate WTSP that they believe it's a bad batch.

"That's why Spice is so dangerous, you never know what you're getting. It's a group of chemicals and as one group is outlawed, they change it for a different chemical," said Yolanda Fernandez, spokesperson for the St. Petersburg Police Department.

A dozen people became sick from what appeared to be Spice on Saturday afternoon. Six were taken to the hospital. In the last few days, over two dozen people have had to be treated by paramedics.

"They were smoking spice and they were dropping like flies, literally," said John Briscoe, a homeless man who sees the serious reactions Spice causes daily.

"They drop, they puke, they shake," he said. "To me it's like walkers from 'The Walking Dead'."

A spike in Spice-related overdoses have been reported around the Bay Area: from Clearwater to Tampa. Police have expressed additional concern about the timing since many college students from across the country are pouring into Florida for spring break.

"Of course we're concerned with spring break," Fernandez said. "A lot of kids out of school and this can be very dangerous."

A Spice cigarette, which is about the size of a twig and known as a "stick," can be purchased for only a dollar.

Briscoe said he hums a Queen song every time people buy a new batch.

"'Another one bites the dust,' every time I see them fall," he said. "'And another one down and another one down...'"