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Press Release

For Immediate Release
August 14, 2014

Contact:
Communications Office
(603)271-2121

Governor Hassan Declares State of Emergency as a Result of Overdoses from Synthetic Cannabinoid
State of Emergency Triggers HHS Public Health Powers to Quarantine Commodity Identified as Smacked!

CONCORD – In order to protect public health and well-being, Governor Maggie Hassan today declared a State of Emergency in the State of New Hampshire as a result of recent overdoses in Manchester and Concord as a result of the use or misuse of the synthetic cannabinoid identified as "Smacked!".

The declaration of a State of Emergency triggers the Department of Health and Human Services public health powers under RSA 21-P:53 or any other applicable statute to investigate, isolate or quarantine and require the destruction of the commodity in question. The department will work closely with local police departments to quarantine the "Bubblegum Flavor" of "Smacked!".

Since August 11, 2014, the Manchester Police Department and local health authorities reported at least 41 people in the Manchester area have experienced serious medical reactions to the synthetic cannabinoid and at least 20 were taken by ambulance to Manchester hospitals for treatment. In addition, the Concord Police Department has reported at least three cases in the last 24 hours.

"These products pose a serious threat to public health, especially to young people, and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to combat the recent rash of overdoses," Governor Hassan said. "In consultation with the New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, public health officials in the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General's office, I have declared a State of Emergency so that we can move quickly to stop the sale of this dangerous substance that has caused an outbreak of serious overdoses."

While not related to overdoses at this time, samples of at least two other brands of synthetic cannabinoids, "Crazy Monkey" and "Green Giant," have tested positive for controlled substances. Store owners are reminded that it is illegal to sell or consume these controlled substances under New Hampshire law.

Other brands of synthetic cannabinoids may also pose dangers for substance abuse and public health. Stores are encouraged to voluntarily remove all synthetic cannabinoids from their shelves.

Generally referred to as "spice," synthetic cannabinoids are chemically engineered substances similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. While they are labeled as not for human consumption, "herbal incense" products of this type are known to be ingested by smoking or brewing into a tea because they contain synthetic cannabinoids.

"It's very important that individuals be made aware that use of this product poses serious and immediate danger to their personal health," Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas said. "We strongly recommend the public avoid any use of this product, and we will work with local police departments as quickly as possible to put the quarantine into effect."

Attorney General Joseph Foster said, "As we have seen in recent days in Manchester and Concord, the misuse of products like 'Smacked!' can cause significant and adverse health risks. Therefore, we are strongly recommending that merchants who have similar products remove them from their shelves and destroy their current inventory. Retailers that continue to knowingly sell these dangerous or illegal products are placed on notice that they could be held responsible for harm caused to a user of the product."

The Governor's declaration will last 21 days unless terminated earlier or extended by further order.

The full text of the declaration is below and attached. pdf file

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
BY HER EXCELLENCY
MARGARET WOOD HASSAN
EXECUTIVE ORDER 2014-6

DECLARATION OF STATE OF EMERGENCY

I, Margaret Wood Hassan, Governor of the State of New Hampshire, pursuant to the authority vested in me under RSA 4:45, declare a State of Emergency in all ten counties of the State of New Hampshire as a result of the imminent peril to public health represented by the outbreak of serious overdoses related to the use or misuse by individuals of the commodity identified as "Smacked" primarily "Bubblegum Flavor." There have been at least forty-one (41) reported cases of overdose on this commodity in Manchester within the last 72 hours, and Concord has reported at least three (3) cases in the last 24 hours.

The declaration will be in effect for twenty-one (21) days unless terminated earlier or extended by further order. I have consulted with the New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and public health officials in the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to discuss a course of action to respond to this public health emergency and the safety and well-being of our citizens including using to the fullest extent necessary the public health powers under RSA 21-P:53 or any other applicable statute to investigate, isolate or quarantine and require the destruction of this commodity.

Given under my hand and seal at the Executive Chambers in Concord, this 14th day of August, in the year of Our Lord, two thousand and fourteen and the independence of the United States of America, two hundred and thirty-nine.

Maggie Hassan
GOVERNOR OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

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