More people treated for apparent synthetic drug overdoses near DC shelter

Emergency personnel responded to more people suffering from apparent synthetic drug overdoses Tuesday afternoon near the Community for Creative Non-Violence shelter in Northwest D.C.

FOX 5 saw a few people being treated on the ground by EMS personnel on sidewalks in the area with empty synthetic drug wrappers located nearby them. D.C. Fire and EMS says at least four people were transported to the hospital in serious, but non-life-threatening condition.

John Cleveland, a case manager at Community for Creative Non-Violence, the largest homeless shelter in the District, said synthetic drug use has been an issue here for at least five years.

"They start shaking, they start acting crazy ... Sometimes we think they are having seizures, but really, they are high on synthetic drugs," said Cleveland.

This comes less than two weeks after crews responded to the same homeless shelter where eight people were hospitalized after smoking synthetic marijuana.

"It's not fair to EMS as well because they got other things they have to do and these people are making a choice to use these synthetic drugs to pass out, all because they want to get high," said Cleveland.

On Monday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier unveiled a plan to crack down on businesses that sell these synthetic drugs.

Bowser said she would submit emergency legislation that would allow police to impose a $10,000 fine and shut down businesses for four days if they are caught selling synthetic drugs on a first offense.

These synthetic drugs can be found at liquor stores and gas stations under different names such as Scooby Snax, K2 and Spice.

"It has fast become one of our biggest public safety threats," said Chief Lanier.

"We will do everything we can to crack down on the sale and use of synthetic drugs in our communities," said Mayor Bowser.

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