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A ‘Zombie’ Epidemic Is Killing Inmates At An Alarming Rate

Tomoka Correctional Institution Work Camp in Florida is faced with a drug epidemic that’s causing its inmates to display strange, zombie-like behaviors. The drug is called K2 or Spice, and is a form a synthetic marijuana that aims to produce the same high as cannabis, but with additional negative side-effects and the possibility of a dangerous overdose.

K2 is the drug that became notorious when “70 people overdosed in 24 hours in New Haven, Conn., home of Yale University,” on Wednesday, August 15.

Marijuana causes a high due to its naturally occurring THC, which synthetic marijuana attempts to recreate. Unlike regular cannabis, however, the chemicals that go into “synthetic marijuana can cause aggressive behavior, hallucinations, heart attacks, seizures…and death.”

A Tomoka prisoner named Raimundo talked to the Miami Herald about the widespread effects of the drug:

Red-eyed inmates shuffle in to get their dinner and sit down to eat, uncoordinated limbs struggling to place food in their mouths. Frequently, he said, someone “falls out,” common vernacular for an overdose. The inmate might faceplant unconscious into his food tray, or slip from his seat, foaming at the mouth, twitching, all of his muscles seizing.

And how does the prison react?

Everybody thinks it’s funny.

2018 is on track to become the deadliest year in Florida prison history, continuing a trend of increasing accidental deaths, most of which are drug-related.

Dr. Tegan Boehmer of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health describes why synthetic marijuana, which is often concocted using recipes that include roach spray or rat poison, is so dangerous:

There are dozens of different chemicals that are used as synthetic cannabinoids. They are very dangerous because there are a lot of unknowns.

The problem has become so rampant among Florida prisons that the Florida Department of Corrections created a PSA that is now required viewing for all inmates.

Raimundo says inmates turn to the drug out of sheer boredom:

There’s absolutely nothing to do except get high.

With very few activities available to the inmates, they’ll turn to drugs simply to pass the time, and K2 is a substance of choice because it doesn’t appear on urine tests. Use of regular marijuana can be punishable by “a disciplinary report, confinement (a form of isolation), loss of gain time, and even loss of visitation.”

Users can develop a dependence on the substance, and discontinuing use can result in withdrawal symptoms strong enough to warrant hospitalization.

One inmate, Jesse, frequently posts about K2 from his Instagram, @FloridaPrisonLivingWithJesse:

Glady, a prison system spokeswoman, commented:

The department is using every tool available to prevent contraband from entering the institution and educating on the dangers of contraband.

Let’s hope they make progress soon. People’s lives depend on it.

H/T – The Miami Herald, CNN

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Written by Collin Gossel

Collin Gossel is a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, New York, but there are nights when he looks up at the stars and wistfully thinks to himself “there’s got to be more out there…” You can catch Collin improvising new musicals every Tuesday night at the Magnet Theater’s Musical Megawatt, or follow his unfiltered thoughts on Twitter and Instagram @CollinGossel.--