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Teen dies after smoking synthetic marijuana; parents warn others

Photos via KTLA

Photos via KTLA

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Parents of a 19-year-old California teen who recently died after smoking synthetic marijuana spoke to KTLA about trying to prevent similar deaths from happening in the future.

On July 11, Connor Eckhardt inhaled one hit of dried herbs that had been sprayed with chemicals to cause a pot-like high, his parents said.

“In a moment of peer pressure, he gave into that, thinking that was OK, it was somehow safe, and one hit later, he goes to sleep and never wakes up,” Connor’s father, Devin Eckhardt, said.

Connor Eckhardt quickly slipped into a coma and experienced brain swelling, his parents said.

Effects of smoking the often-legal product include altered mental state, irregular heartbeat and seizures, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“These substances are not benign,” Dr Andrew Monte, the lead author of an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, said. “You can buy designer drugs of abuse at convenience stores and on the Internet. People may not realize how dangerous these drugs can be – up to 1,000 times stronger binding to cannabis receptors when compared to traditional marijuana.”

Since Connor Eckhardt’s death, his parents fulfilled his wish to have his organs donated and created a Facebook page meant to carry on his memory and tell others about his untimely death.

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77 comments

  • ewolcott3

    That crap should have been ban a long time ago! I have a son who lost his mind and ended up in prison after 3 hits! Thank God he didn’t die or kill anyone else!

    • Brittney

      It gets banned all the time and the creators just tweak the formula and the new formula is completely legal until they ban that one. Then they will just keep making more. Theres nothing we can do about it. I almost died from it. I smoked heavy for 2 years all day every day. Any questions about it? Come to me.

      • Jack Finnish

        It’s a horrible substance and legal synthetic marijuana can be solved without the need of banning it, legalise REAL marijuana, there is definitely something we can do about it

      • Debbie Shirey

        I have a son that won’t listen to me on the dangers of this drug (k2)
        Maybe if he heard it from someone his age group it would wake him up. I have tried everything My son is 26 yrs old. If you could say one thing that would make him understand it CAN happen to him
        Concerned & Scared Mom

        • alyssa

          Maybe you should show your son all of the articles of people dying not just from spice but specifically k2. I’m sorry he’s putting you in a position to be scared & worried for his life that’s truly unfair. I hope your son realizes before it’s too late .

        • Cody Erickson

          Sure sorry to hear that Debbie. He knows it’s dangerous but he doesn’t care or think something can happen to him. I’m a 20 yr old male who definitely had some problems with substances and authority even though I had the best parents I could ask for. It sounds silly but actual pot would be so much better for him. I understand the controversy over pot but there simply isn’t controversy over K2, it kills. He’s his own man now, I’m sure he loves you and he doesn’t want to hurt you but the drug gives him something he wants that he doesn’t know how to get without it. Just be close to him and know that it’s not your fault.

          • James

            You can get way more high off Holy Spirit, I smoked weed for 10 years and stopped over night when I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit, it was like I was drinking dirty water all my life and all of a sudden I tried clean water, dirty water all of a sudden was not so appealing!

      • carrie

        And that’s the thing; if you try to make something like cannabis 9/10 in your chemical reaction you will have by-product and that by-product if it is not removed the right way can be very deadly chemicals that doesn’t mix with the cannabis. Could be chloride salts, some sort of basic wash, or anything really.

    • John Thomas

      One – because he’s 19. You have to be 21 to buy from a dispensary. – That’s one of the problems I have with most of the medical/re-legalization laws. Since marijuana is not addictive, is FAR less harmful than alcohol, less intoxicating, does not fuel traffic accidents and violence as does alcohol, we should make the legal age 18 for marijuana consumption. We would keep millions of young adults out of jail and out of risk with this one change.

      Two – because it’s “legal.” – Thus, the bogus, police-state, Inquisition tool of drug testing cannot destroy their lives.

      Three – because the counter-productive FRAUD of marijuana prohibition keeps the prices pegged outrageously high. After re-legalization, average quality marijuana will probably sell for around $50 an ounce – less at Wal-Mart. – It’s just a plant.

      • Justin Tramel

        In California you only have to be 18 to get a medical cannabis prescription. Colorado and Washington you have to be 21.

      • Mike Doe

        I agree with all your points except when you say that marijuana is not addictive. It is far less addictive than most drugs, but still has addictive potential.

        • John Thomas

          When you say marijuana is “far less addictive than most drugs,” that means not addictive to most people. – Addiction involves severe withdrawal symptoms that compel continuous use to be avoided. Marijuana doesn’t have them.

          • Cody Erickson

            I sort of agree. Your definition of addiction would mean that I can’t be addicted to sports or a girl or anything other than a chemical. You could say that pot isn’t physically addictive because of the absence of withdrawals but to say it’s not addictive is a half-truth. You know that feeling after a long day of class or work and you just want to burn one? Why do you feel that way? Or I’ve heard people tell stories like “my guy didn’t text me back for 2 hrs like what the fuck”. It’s obviously mentally addictive because those who like pot would rather always have some at least available. Pot is also mentally addictive enough for some to try these pretender drugs in the absence of pot. Also in the states with just decriminalization it’s about 60 1/8 right? So if you get 1/8 a week that’s 240 a month. My rent is 275. People with low incomes or no income can’t afford it but still buy it. Why? The same reason I’d rather play FIFA than study. Mental addiction.

        • Caroline

          That’s what I was thinking Philip. I never did drugs, was never tempted to even try, I guess I just had too much respect for my mind and body to administer something foreign, something that someone had made in their shed etc…
          Fortunately I was able to convey this message to all my children, so I am lucky to have them all still alive, RIP to the young man who thought it would be ok to smoke something toxic. No parent should ever have to bury their children, ever.

        • James

          Let’s be honest. Marijuana is addicting. It becomes a habit just like throwing a football, if you like it your gonna keep smoking. As far as myself it’s worked out great for me I stay out of trouble I hardly go out cause all I wanna do is get home from work and smoke. So I don’t know how the rest of you feel about weed. But In los angeles it is highly accepted by many even police officers don’t mind weed as long as you do make it really clear that you have it and you show them what it is you have. Also I have found that it’s less harmful then drinking I could smoke for days and get up and drive instantly with no problem. I think in the long run weed helps someone grind and do things on their own that you normally maybe wouldn’t want to because your lazy or just not interested. But if it means anything coming from a 20 year old kid from compton, just smokr weed if your going to smoke something! Let it be weed. You will either not like it or mellow out and atleast you won’t go to sleep and die…. but it’s not bad, only to your wallet sometimes but it’s much safer and provides a much better environment for you to peacefully be.

  • Kathy Sweeney

    Please – it is not responsible journalism to call this shit “synthetic marijuana” or to say it gives you a pot like high.
    #1 it isn’t anything chemically close, and has toxic side effects unlike cannabis.
    and #2 it doesn’t have a high “like pot”.
    the kid who hears you call it synthetic pot will be thinking its as safe a pot and causes a mild euphoria.
    so, just just stop already!

    • Cody Erickson

      I agree. Perhaps the term synthetic marijuana is used as sling towards legalization. If synthetic weed is this bad real weed can’t be much better or possibly even worse right? That’s what those who are underinformed might think when hearing the term.

  • Brittney

    It’s worse than heroin. Mostly because of how easy it is to obtain and smoke. And I have had every possible side effect besides death.

  • Jim

    My heart goes out to this kid’s family. Why not stop this problem at it’s root. Stop cannabis prohibition now! It does NOT protect anything! It makes everything 10x worse. This synthetic crap wouldn’t be necessary if the benign real thing were legal.
    Shame on the people who make this crap.

  • Angeline Farms

    I smoked week for 5 years and tries fake bake a couple of times. And I gotta tell you nothing compares to the Holy Ghost. God is so good all the time I don’t need to hide in a high anymore. He will so the same for you. Ask and ye shall receive. God bless.

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  • Lisa

    I had smoked the real stuff with no problems besides munchies; Smoked spice & after one hit blacked out for like 2 hours. My ex had to take my blood pressure after I threw up he kept talking to me. Honestly all I remembered was crying cause I didn’t know what was happening. I do remember him asking some questions but I couldn’t talk. Never again will I touch this crap; My oldest daughter @ 15 witnessed it & knows the dangers. My heart goes out to this young boys family.

  • Kisha

    We need to find some way to get this drug off the streets, and out the stores, people are even allowed to by this drug with food stamps.

  • One bad day

    I had been smoking this everyday for a while and always had periodically for two years. I smoked half a joint before work. I had a bad day and as soon as I got in the car I lit up the other half. I took two hits of it and that’s all it took. I blacked out driving down the road, ran through a stop light, hit three cars a transfer truck and a pole. The paramedics couldn’t get me out of my vehicle it took an hour to pull my hands off of the wheel. I had no idea what was going on. Witnesses said I had something in my mouth, possibly throw up or I was foaming at the mouth. They said I was shaking uncontrollably, I was telling everyone I had been on a date and other crazy hallucinations. After a few days I started to remember more from the wreck; the last thing i recall was a feeling of my heart racing and the worst mental physical pain I’d ever experienced. It honestly felt like I was dead and I ended up in hell. I have never Been so out of it. I had no idea I had even been in a wreck. Even though I had smoked the same exact thing 8 hours earlier, it affected me completely different that time and messed up a lot of things in my life. Synthetic marihuana is NOT SAFE and I hope this comment saves someone’s life. I really had an angel watching over me when I wrecked, I should have been hurt. The Lord is good & you live, you learn.

  • Blitzzen

    http://www.kirkhamiltonallenfoundation.com/resources-information/
    The desire to create a legal product that would mimic the effects of cannabis led to the creation synthetic cannabis. Products that contained the synthetic cannabis chemicals were first introduced into Europe in the early 2000′s.

    In November of 2008, Synthetic cannabinoids were detected in herbal incense products in the United States.

    These products are marketed as “herbal incense” and “plant food,” respectively, and labeled “not for human consumption” to mask their intended purpose and avoid FDA regulatory oversight of the manufacturing process. These products are sprayed with an active compound like JWH-018 (synthetic cannabis), which is what makes them toxic. The name JWH-018 comes from the scientist John W. Huffman, who synthesized versions of TCH to study its effects in the lab and to try to simulate the calming effects of cannabis. JWH-018 is only one of 14 cannabinoids that have been created. “Spice” has been able to skirt around laws where JWH-018 has been banned by using one of the other cannabinoids such as JWH-073.

    In 2010 synthetic marijuana was linked to 11,406 drug-related emergency department visits, most of those were children between the ages of 12 to 17. One of the difficulties is that there’s no existing toxicology screen that can reliably detect the substances found in these products.

    One of the reasons that synthetic pot can produce a greater and more unreliable effect is that its ability to bond the brain’s cannabis receptor (CB1) is five times greater than what THC is capable of. This means a greater risk of serious, long-lasting neurological problems.

    Synthetic Cannabis is best known by the names “Spice” and “K2″ but also goes by the names “Aroma,” “Mr. Smiley,” “Zohai,” “Eclipse,” “Black Mamba,” “Red X Dawn,” “Blaze,” and “Dream.” It is considered a cheap and convenient substitute for cannabis and can also be used as a filler in the cheaper “shake” sales of marijuana which resembles loose leaf rather than buds.

    Unlike marijuana, the synthetic chemicals in spice-type products are more potent to the brain and other organs because they bind themselves more permanently to those receptors, at 200 times the level of THC, With the lack of scientific research and study, it’s not yet known how long these chemicals stay in the body or what changes, if any, happen to those cells, so it is difficult to know yet how they may harm the brain and the rest of the body. There are so many substances, and they all have different behaviors.

    Unfortunately, these products, when analyzed, are found to vary in concentration as well as lacking in stated ingredients. They are made in small manufacturing plants with little or no quality control.

    The relationship between Cannabis and Psychosis has indicated in research that there is a connection between the two in some people. The rates of psychosis in people who have ingested synthetic cannabis is much higher than with the natural plant. These studies suggest that synthetic cannabinoid intoxication is associated with acute psychosis, worsening of previously stable psychotic disorders, and also may have the ability to trigger a chronic (long-term) psychotic disorder among vulnerable individuals. (1)

  • Christopher

    I tried this synthetic pot before thinking it was a joke but after my first and only hit,I clearly lost my mind for about 6 hours!!I can’t imagine wat this poor kid was thinking after 3hits.this stuff needs to be banned for life!!

  • Morgan

    My heart goes out to his parents and it hits close to home. I am trying to get the word out on the street and media to warn all students of all ages. Do not be fooled by a cheap imitation called “Spice” and ruin your life. I wish more people would take the time to search the internet, so much info. is out there at your finger tips. Any smart phone can find it, but most likely if you are into Spice you will not consider that option. The 5 o’clock news should blast it weekly, that may help. All it takes is once…are you really willing to take that chance…I wonder?? All the best to new families having to deal with this problem, I truly wish you all the best. Our family member is on the road of recovery thanks to rehab. We, the family, finally did the research online and found help.
    http://spiceaddictionsupport.org/5-types-of-rehab-for-synthetic-marijuana-addiction/

  • Neal Tucker

    The problem is the chemist arent properly mixing the chemicals in the rabbit feed or potpourri. When this is done, half of the batch will be waayyyyy too strong and the other half wont get you high at all. When people die or flip out with episodes therein lies the problem. But thats the chance taken using any imitation drug. A lota people i know use it bc their jobs dont allow marijuna smoke or they’re on probation trying not to violate for a harmless weed high. But that still a hellova chance to take!

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  • lindsay

    I overdosed last June . it took me one bad hit. I wish others would never have to experience what I went through. Don’t call them Idiots either. You’ve done stupid shit too. This family is clearly grieving and all you can do is be a judgmental asshole. Instead of being a jerk why don’t you consolidate them. It could be your child. I use my experience as a learning tool for others. Why don’t you.

  • Valerie

    This is so sad you don’t call people idiots.because you don’t no what you’re love ones are doing behind close doors this drug is bad their ate so many kids smoking this drug even some adults.it’s sick.

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  • Ti

    They have to put marijuana in there to make it look bad. When that stuff is incense, that stuff was band a year ago. Ppl are idiots.

  • Miladys Rohena

    My sincerest sympathies . I am the parent of a deceased child and know the heartache it brings . God bless and success in reaching awareness of what drugs can lead to .

  • Sheila howard

    Sorry for your lost and I hope people that smoke will listen to to you I use to smoke a lot but I have long given this up young people need to stop letting peer pressure get to you always think of Conner

  • chelsielove090909

    Legalize marijuana and this wouldn’t happen. It’s sad that something that will not kill you is illegal, while something that can, with ONE HIT, is.

  • Zandra

    Its a awful drug that has plague my whole town almost in this month we have had 400 cases in the local hospitals here in mobile Al the news a health department are warning and reporting these cases to the police its bad please keep spreading the news of this deadly drug. I’m so sorry for your loss!!!

  • TINA SANDERS

    TO THE FAMILY, MAY CONTINUE TO GIVE Y’ALL PEACE WHILE YOU GOING THROUGH. JUST HOLD ON TO THE MEMORIES THAT GOD HAS LEFT YOU WITH. AND EACH DAY WILL GET EASIER AND EASIER WITH TIME.

  • candace

    I took one hit off of this stuff.
    And almost died. It made me crazy the Hole time I was high.
    I had seszers and a heart attack.
    I was hospitallized
    It was horbile.

  • Alicia

    I’m just going to say that im very desapointed with this stores that are caring sentedic Mar iguana, my husband s friend always smoking it and he looks and walks like his in another world. I hope the government puts a stop to this….

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