Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2, Spice)

A substance often called "fake weed," "K2," and "spice" can cause severe bleeding and possibly death.

These products are found across the U.S. in convenience stores, gas stations, drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, and online.

There was one confirmed death in Milwaukee County in 2018.

Wisconsin Case Counts: March 30, 2018–July 31, 2019
Type of Cases Number of Cases
Confirmed 70
Probable 17
Total cases reported to DPH 87

Counties with confirmed cases: Dane, Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Racine, and Rock.


About These Drugs

Synthetic cannabinoids are not one drug. Hundreds of different synthetic cannabinoid chemicals are manufactured and sprayed on dried plant material or sold as liquids to be inhaled in products like e-cigarettes or other vaping devices. New cannabinoid chemicals with unknown health risks are available each year.

These products are unsafe, and the health effects from using them can be unpredictable, harmful, and even life threatening. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently monitoring data across the nation regarding outbreaks.

Alternate Names for Synthetic Cannabinoids

These products are sold under various names including:

  • Black Mamba
  • Bling Blang Monkey
  • Bombay Blue
  • Climax
  • Cloud 9
  • Fake Weed
  • Genie
  • Joker
  • K2
  • Kisha Cole
  • Legal Weed
  • Matrix
  • OMG
  • Phantom
  • Red, Blue, or Yellow Giant
  • Releaf
  • Scooby Snax
  • Spice
  • Zohai

For Health Professionals

In patients who present with bleeding not from an injury and not otherwise explained, including nosebleeds, bleeding of the gums, bruising, vomiting blood, blood in urine or stool, or excessively heavy menstrual bleeding, ED and urgent care providers are encouraged to:

  1. Ask patients if they have used synthetic cannabinoids within the last three months. Terms for these products may include K2, Spice, Synthetic Marijuana, Fake Weed, Legal Weed, and Genie.
  2. If the patient reports synthetic cannabinoid use or you suspect use, check the patient’s INR before releasing them.
Additional Clinical Information
DPH Memos
Illinois Webinar
The Illinois Department of Health has released a short webinar for clinicians on synthetic cannabinoids.


Media requests should go to the DHS media or 608-266-1683.

Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, call 211 or 833-944-4673 to learn about all treatment services available in Wisconsin.

Last Revised: October 8, 2021

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