A drug epidemic in New York City reportedly reached new heights on Tuesday after 33 people were hospitalized in a mass overdose involving K2, a synthetic form of marijuana.
According to multiple reports, the drug has been wreaking havoc at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Broadway on the border of the Brooklyn neighborhoods Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant. There, K2 users can often be seen staggering around the area, passed out on the ground, and wandering into oncoming traffic. The intersection has been dubbed the "epicenter" of the K2 outbreak in NYC, and on Tuesday, it was reportedly responsible for its worst mass overdose yet.
After responding to a 911 call at around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, police found five men experiencing the effects of the K2 drug, which include hallucinations, urination, vomiting, and passing out. By midnight, 33 people had been hospitalized due to suspected K2 use.
"It’s like a scene out of a zombie movie, a horrible scene," 38-year-old Brian Arthur told the New York Times. He filmed a video of the scene on Facebook Live, which showed drug users crumpled on the ground around the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Broadway. "This drug truly paralyzed people."
An NYPD spokesman released a statement that said all of Tuesday's overdose victims have been stabilized. K2 has been rising in popularity in recent years despite safety warnings. In 2015, the NYC health department sought to address the growing epidemic after the drug led to nearly 6,000 emergency room admissions and two deaths.
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed several bills into law in October 2015 outlawing the production and sale of the drug, which he called "a scourge" and "poison." However, stores in Brooklyn reportedly continue to peddle it, with businesses receiving hundreds of summonses in recent years related to K2.
In May, NYC officials said the number of K2-related emergency room visits has declined 85 percent since July 2015, but as Tuesday's events show, the drug still has a strong hold on many New Yorkers.