Local

'Spice' may have sickened 18 people on Skid Row

A person who was seen
A person who was seen "writhing in the driveway and flipping into traffic and blocking traffic" in front of Union Rescue Mission Friday is suspected to have been suffering from an overdose of the synthetic drug 'spice'.
Courtesy Andy Bales, Union Rescue Mission
A person who was seen
Confiscated synthetic drugs are on display at a news conference at the DEA offices in Centennial, Colo., on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, where it was announced that a federal grand jury in Denver has returned indictments charging nine individuals from across the country with conspiracy and drug distribution charges related to "Spice."
Ed Andrieski/AP
A person who was seen
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 31: A passed out man lies on a sidewalk in an area which has witnessed an explosion in the use of K2 or 'Spice', a synthetic marijuana drug in East Harlem on August 31, 2015 in New York City. New York, along with other cities, is experiencing a deadly epidemic of synthetic marijuana usage including varieties known as K2 or 'Spice' which can cause extreme reactions in some users. According to New York's health department, more than 120 people visited an emergency room in the city in just one week in April. While the state banned the ingredients used to make K2 in 2012, distributors have switched to other ingredients and names in an attempt to circumvent the law. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A person who was seen
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: A man pauses while high on K2 or 'Spice', a synthetic marijuana drug, along a street in East Harlem on August 28, 2015 in New York City. New York, along with other cities, is experiencing a deadly epidemic of synthetic marijuana usage including varieties known as K2 or 'Spice' which can cause extreme reactions in some users. According to New York's health department, more than 120 people visited an emergency room in the city in just one week in April. While the state banned the ingredients used to make K2 in 2012, distributors have switched to other ingredients and names in an attempt to circumvent the law. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A person who was seen
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: A man is viewed passed out on the street while high on K2 or 'Spice', a synthetic marijuana drug, in East Harlem on August 28, 2015 in New York City. New York, along with other cities, is experiencing a deadly epidemic of synthetic marijuana usage including varieties known as K2 or 'Spice' which can cause extreme reactions in some users. According to New York's health department, more than 120 people visited an emergency room in the city in just one week in April. While the state banned the ingredients used to make K2 in 2012, distributors have switched to other ingredients and names in an attempt to circumvent the law. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A person who was seen
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 05: A man smokes K2 or "Spice", a synthetic marijuana drug, along a street in East Harlem on August 5, 2015 in New York City. New York, along with other cities, is experiencing a deadly epidemic of synthetic marijuana usage including varieties known as K2 or "Spice" which can cause extreme reactions in some users. According to New York's health department, more than 120 people visited an emergency room in the city in just one week in April. While the state banned the ingredients used to make K2 in 2012, distributors have switched to other ingredients and names in an attempt to circumvent the law. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A person who was seen
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 05: Men who are high on K2 or "Spice", a synthetic marijuana drug, sleep along a street in East Harlem on August 5, 2015 in New York City. New York, along with other cities, is experiencing a deadly epidemic of synthetic marijuana usage including varieties known as K2 or "Spice" which can cause extreme reactions in some users. According to New York's health department, more than 120 people visited an emergency room in the city in just one week in April. While the state banned the ingredients used to make K2 in 2012, distributors have switched to other ingredients and names in an attempt to circumvent the law. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A person who was seen
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 05: In this photo illustration, packets of K2 or "spice", a synthetic marijuana drug, are seen in East Harlem on August 5, 2015 in New York City. New York, along with other cities, is experiencing a deadly epidemic of synthetic marijuana usage including varieties known as K2 or "Spice" which can cause extreme reactions in some users. According to New York's health department, more than 120 people visited an emergency room in the city in just one week in April. While the state banned the ingredients used to make K2 in 2012, distributors have switched to other ingredients and names in an attempt to circumvent the law. (Photo Illustration by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A person who was seen
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 05: A man prepares to smoke K2 or "Spice", a synthetic marijuana drug, along a street in East Harlem on August 5, 2015 in New York City. New York, along with other cities, is experiencing a deadly epidemic of synthetic marijuana usage including varieties known as K2 or "Spice" which can cause extreme reactions in some users. According to New York's health department, more than 120 people visited an emergency room in the city in just one week in April. While the state banned the ingredients used to make K2 in 2012, distributors have switched to other ingredients and names in an attempt to circumvent the law. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A person who was seen
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: A man is consoled as paramedics take him to the hospital for what is thought to be an overdose of K2 or 'Spice', a synthetic marijuana drug, along a street in East Harlem on August 28, 2015 in New York City. New York, along with other cities, is experiencing a deadly epidemic of synthetic marijuana usage including varieties known as K2 or 'Spice' which can cause extreme reactions in some users. According to New York's health department, more than 120 people visited an emergency room in the city in just one week in April. While the state banned the ingredients used to make K2 in 2012, distributors have switched to other ingredients and names in an attempt to circumvent the law. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A person who was seen
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 16: A man is viewed sprawled on the ground in an area which has witnessed an explosion in the use of K2 or 'Spice', a synthetic marijuana drug, in East Harlem on September 16, 2015 in New York City. In a a news conference today with William Bratton, the police commissioner and Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, it was announced that the Federal and New York City authorities have broken up a group that trafficked in synthetic marijuana. New York, along with other cities, is experiencing a deadly epidemic of synthetic marijuana usage which can cause extreme reactions in some users. According to New York's health department, more than 120 people visited an emergency room in the city in just one week in April. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images


A synthetic street drug is being blamed for the sudden illness of at least 18 people on LA's Skid Row Friday.

The group of people believed to be homeless showed similar symptoms vomiting, slurring their speech and difficulty with muscular coordination.

Los Angeles Fire Department officials say paramedics responded to the area at about 10 a.m. on Friday. They found a group of people, believed to be homeless, who showed the same symptoms — difficulty with muscular coordination, slurring their speech and vomiting.

They were transported to a nearby hospital and their injuries are not expected to be life threatening.

Authorities believe an illegal drug known as "spice" caused the symptoms.

"Its distribution is so fast that one bad batch can decimate an area," Los Angeles Police Captain Don Graham tells KPCC's media partner NBC 4.

This isn't the first time "spice" has hit Skid Row. In the spring, 14 people fell ill in one weekend after consuming "spice." The synthetic drug is made from plant matter soaked with various chemicals and generally sells for $1 to $2 a dose.

Union Rescue Mission CEO Andy Bales, who has worked in the area for over a decade, told KPCC it's the most vexing drug he has dealt with:

"We've dealt with alcohol for years. We've dealt with crack cocaine. We've dealt with heroin. We've dealt with meth. But spice — and people using spice — is the most unpredictable drug we've ever had to come up against in our work."

Synthetic drugs like "spice" have also become a major problem in other cities including New York, where a bad batch of the drug K2 sickened 130 people in three days in July. Authorities there have pledged to crack down on it.

The Los Angeles Fire Department says  LAPD urges anyone who might have the drug to throw it away.