Prison wardens found the inmate on the bathroom floor with a "suspicious" looking substance next to him, according to a new report published in the journal BMJ Case Reports on June 7.
"The officers also gave a history of about five previous episodes of confusion without neurological deficits after exposure to synthetic cannabinoids over the last 6 months. On examination, he was found to be confused with left gaze deviation and right hemiparesis. His cardiovascular and pulmonary examination was otherwise unremarkable," the paper says.
When he was brought to the hospital, a scan revealed an extensive area of stroke and swelling in the brain while a heart trace showed evidence of a previous heart attack.
The prisoner was treated in an attempt to stabilize his heart failure and also given physiotherapy, but he was still left a permanent degree of disability.
The authors of the paper suggest there should be greater awareness of the dangers of synthetic cannabis use.
"Multiple studies have demonstrated the increased risk of myocardial infractions and ischaemic strokes with use of synthetic cannabinoids. Other frequent side effects reported with synthetic cannabinoid use are anxiety, psychosis, tachycardia, bradycardia, chest pain, hypotension, syncope, acute tubular necrosis and thromboangiitis obliterans," the doctors warn.
A 2016 study by the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland suggested that synthetic are as addictive as heroin.
The diversity among different drugs under this common umbrella of ‘synthetic marijuana' will remain a barrier to successful testing of all chemicals with a single battery of tests," the authors of the paper have also warned.