More sicknesses reported on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paramedics responded Monday to another rash of illness among a group of people in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles, where police have attributed similar incidents to use of a synthetic form of marijuana known as Spice.

Firefighters evaluated 18 patients and took 14 of them to hospitals for doctors to determine the cause of the symptoms, said Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart.

On Friday, emergency responders took 18 people to hospitals from the downtown area where the homeless gather.

Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphries said those treated Friday showed difficulty with muscular coordination, had slurred speech and were vomiting.

Police Sgt. Ed Kinney told City News Service that officers believed that group consumed synthetic drugs from the same batch because of the large volume of calls within the same time frame.

In April, police Chief Charlie Beck said 15 people who collapsed on Skid Row sidewalks had consumed Spice.

Reports of synthetic marijuana products identified by local, state and federal drug labs have skyrocketed since 2009. That year, labs reported 23 cases. By 2014, there were roughly 37,500

In 2012, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began Project Synergy, an enforcement operation aimed at organizations trafficking synthetic drugs.

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