More than 80 people overdose on K2 near Yale University

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Dozens of people overdosed on a bad batch of K2 in New Haven Green, a park in New Haven, Connecticut, August 15, 2018.

Police in Connecticut arrested three people in connection with dozens of overdoses from a bad batch of "K2" synthetic marijuana at or near a city park in New Haven, authorities said.

Officials said 82 people overdosed Tuesday and Wednesday, most of them in and around New Haven Green, a popular, historic downtown park that borders part of Yale University. No one died, but officials said two people had life-threatening symptoms and at least 15 were hospitalized.

"Do not come down to the Green and purchase this K2," New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell said. "It is taking people out very quickly, people having respiratory failure. Don't put your life in harm."

Paramedics and police officers were stationed at the park all day as more people fell ill. Some became unconscious and others vomited, authorities said. Emergency responders rushed to one victim as officials were giving a news conference nearby late Wednesday morning.

A hospital test found that at least some of drug was laced with fentanyl, officials said.

"Many of them had to be resuscitated—they had respiratory depression or respiratory arrest," Dr. Sandy Bogucki of Yale EMS said. "The effects didn't last long and they were able to be discharged, in most cases, from hospital fairly soon, which meant they were able to return to the Green to seek another high."

Police were able to get information from some of the K2 users that helped them in the investigation.

"Many of the victims did inform us they didn't purchase this K2—that one of the individuals was actually handing it out to them," Chief Campbell said. "It is our belief this individual may have had the intent of trying to get people addicted to this product and thereby starting a chain of clients for themselves."

New Haven first responders were called to a similar overdose outbreak on the Green on July 4, when more than a dozen people were sick from synthetic marijuana. The city also saw more than a dozen synthetic marijuana overdoses in late January. No deaths were reported in either outbreak.

Synthetic marijuana, which generally is plant material sprayed with chemicals that mimic the high from real marijuana, has been blamed for overdoses across the country.

With the Associated Press