12 people are now reported sick after smoking herbal incense in south Georgia. Glynn County police have pulled the product off the shelves. But they fear there may be more of the substance out there.
Officials say eight people in Brunswick got violently ill Friday after smoking herbal incense labeled Crazy Clown. Dr. Pat O’Neill with the Georgia Health Department says some people became physically stiff. “There was one young lady who apparently had started to lean against a car. But she became fixed about 8 inches before she reached the car and was essentially frozen in that posture when the responders arrived.”
Other symptoms by those affected included agitation, rapid heartbeat and nausea. Some also exhibited violent behavior.
Three more people became ill over the weekend. And there was another case Tuesday morning. In all, 11 people had to be hospitalized. Doctors even put one person on life support. One refused treatment.
Dr. O'Neill says he is worried about copy cat activity. He says some people who smoke herbal incense are under the impression that it is synthetic marijuana. But the ingredients are different and officials say this is definitely not any type of marijuana. The active ingredients are different, and some users have violent reactions.
Officers seized the incense—marketed under several different labels. They include Original Sham Rocks, xXx,Black Lion, and 20X. But Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering is worried they may not have gotten it all out of the county.
He says “It would not surprise me that who ever is making this stuff will package it in different names. And it ends up being the same thing. But only time will tell.”
Chief Doering says officials have not been able to find any similar cases elsewhere in the country.
Dr. O’Neill says herbal incense is not regulated. He says it is too much of a risk to smoke it. “Stay away from these drugs all together. They can be fatal.” he says.
So far authorities say all the incense was sold out of Mary Jane’s Emporium in Brunswick. The owner was charged in a different case back in May for selling a Schedule 1 controlled substance. No one was hurt in that case.
Chief Doering says the man is cooperating with them in this investigation. “He’s answering questions about where he got it. He told us that on Friday was the first day he started selling this. If that’s true, that would explain why 8 people all of a sudden one day got sick.”
The GBI is now testing the product at it’s lab in Savannah. But officials say it may be weeks or even months before they find out what is making people sick. If authorities do not find any illegal substance in the incense, police say the owner of the store will not face any charges.
Contributors: Clay Bolton