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Bratton: Synthetic Marijuana Gives Homeless Users 'Superhuman Strength,' Makes Them 'Impervious To Pain'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The NYPD is sounding the alarm about a synthetic drug, saying it is favored by the homeless. It makes people irrational, impervious to pain and very dangerous.

In a disturbing video obtained by CBS2, a naked homeless man, said to be under the influence of a resurgent drug, synthetic marijuana -- also known as "K2" and "Spice," is seen blocking a Brooklyn school safety vehicle. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton calls the drug "weaponized marijuana," CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday.

The man is howling and irrational. Bratton said it is the new favorite drug of some homeless people, who often buy it in bodegas in upper Manhattan for as little as $1 a packet.

And, as a second video shows, the drug makes it very difficult and dangerous for cops to arrest users.

Bratton: Synthetic Marijuana Gives Homeless Users 'Superhuman Strength,' Makes Them 'Impervious To Pain'

"These individuals, many of them under the influence of this drug, are totally crazy, superhuman strength, impervious to pain. So some of the normal takedowns that we would use are not going to work," Bratton said.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, synthetic marijuana has been around for years, but the current crisis dates back to April when 120 people were hospitalized after smoking it.

According to a homeless man who called himself 'Michael' a few weeks ago a version of the product called 'Mr. Nice Guy' was having a nasty impact.

"It's like every block two ambulances on each block. I thought it was a terrorist attack," he said.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito represents the district where synthetic marijuana is the biggest problem.

"Half the time you don't know what's in it, different combinations of different products, and it is causing you know a lot of havoc," she said.

It's such a problem that police recently confiscated more than 10,000 packets of the drug in central Harlem.

The news came as police released the latest crime stats showing that while overall crime is down more than 5 percent, homicides are up about 10 percent over last year.

Officials say that most of the shootings, like the one in Red Hook on Monday night that left five people wounded, are gang-related and confined to upper Manhattan, the Bronx and central Brooklyn. Many of the shooters are repeat offenders, Kramer reported.

"We had an incident this past weekend in Brooklyn of an individual, a young man, shot in the chest. He was involved in a shooting incident last year. He was shot in the chest now this week the day before he was to be sentenced on a gun charge," NYPD Deputy Chief of Operations Dermot Shea said.

The joint issues of gun violence homelessness have been a continuing problem for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who Kramer spoke with on Tuesday.

Kramer: "Mr. Mayor, the murder rate has gone up year to year, according to the latest figures that came out from the NYPD. Some people look at the increased murder rate, the increased homeless as signs that the city is going downhill. What would you say to some who believe that the city is going downhill?"

De Blasio: "I would say look at the facts and stop the hysteria. Now, I understand the concept in this city – what have you done for me lately? But let's try to be a little factual here. So at this moment, crime is down almost 6 percent compared to last year, which was a record year."

The mayor said that a good percentage of the homeless have mental health issues. On Wednesday he plans to unveil the first phase of his plan to deal with them and get them off the streets, Kramer reported.

The NYPD released its latest crime statistics on Tuesday. Overall crime is down more than 5 percent from last year, but homicides jumped more than 9 percent.

Rape was up nearly 6 percent, and the number of shooting incidents remained largely the same. Police said most of the shootings so far this year are gang-related.

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