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Hospitalizations from illegal synthetic cannabis drug ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ climb to 39

Health Ministry and police issue urgent warning against substance which led to death this week of 31-year-old Haifa resident

Police find bags of an illegal cannabis synthetic cannabinoid in the Haifa area, on September 26, 2021. (Israel Police)
Police find bags of an illegal cannabis synthetic cannabinoid in the Haifa area, on September 26, 2021. (Israel Police)

Thirty-nine people are currently hospitalized due to the consumption of an illegal synthetic cannabis substance, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday, warning that the drug commonly known as “Mr. Nice Guy” can cause “serious illness and even death.”

A number of the patients were suffering from internal bleeding, suggesting the substance was laced with a poisonous substance, possibly rat poison, the ministry said.

Reiterating a warning issued on Sunday, the ministry, in a joint statement with the police, said that the drug is “particularly dangerous because it is mixed with different substances including [other] drugs, poisonous materials, and pesticides, which change from distributor to distributor.”

On Monday, a 31-year-old Haifa resident died after consuming the synthetic cannabinoid. He was taken to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center last weekend along with others who took the drug cocktail, where he was later pronounced dead.

The hospital said that he suffered a major cerebral hemorrhage.

Last weekend, 12 teenagers were hospitalized in medical centers in the north of the country after taking the drug. Reports at the time suggested that the synthetic cannabinoid that once dominated Tel Aviv’s streets was suspected to have been taken with anticoagulants aimed at getting the drug around the body faster.

The teenagers were all admitted with dizziness, vomiting, and hallucinations, all known side effects of the drug.

A man suspected of distributing an illegal cannabis synthetic cannabinoid is arrested in the Haifa area, on September 26, 2021. (Israel Police)

The police and the Health Ministry opened a joint investigation and have so far arrested three men in the Haifa area suspected of distributing the drug.

A 27-year-old from Kiryat Motzkin and a 31-year-old Haifa man were detained on Sunday over the suspicion of distributing the drug. On Monday, a 23-year-old from Tirat Carmel was arrested, with the drugs reportedly found on his person.

Following the 31-year-old’s death, the men are now suspected of manslaughter.

In 2011, “Mr. Nice Guy” and other synthetic cannaboids, which became increasingly popular in Israel, were banned. They had previously been approved by the health and welfare committee in the Knesset.

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