August 16, 2018 12:34 pm
Updated: August 16, 2018 1:55 pm

Over 70 people overdosed on K2 in Connecticut town in 24-hour period

ABOVE: Over 70 people overdose off suspected synthetic marijuana K2 in Connecticut

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Seventy-six people overdosed on a suspected bad batch of synthetic marijuana, known as K2, within 24 hours in New Haven, Conn., this week. Nobody died, but some of the victims suffered life-threatening symptoms.

Officials are trying to determine what exactly sickened the victims.

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READ MORE: Synthetic marijuana is causing overdoses in the U.S. — what’s the risk in Canada?

Most of the overdoses were on the New Haven Green, a popular, historic downtown park that borders part of Yale University, and officials said they expected the overdose total to increase. Police said they arrested a man believed to be connected to at least some of the overdoses.

According to WFSB-TV, the rash in overdoses began late Tuesday night, with reports of three people suffering from symptoms, while another 15 fell ill early Wednesday morning. By late afternoon, 71 people had overdosed throughout the city.

WATCH: Police say some of synthetic marijuana was laced with fentanyl

“As we were trying to pick up from the upper green, we ended up with two additional victims on the lower green, one of which was a victim we had from this morning, so we’re not sure if he sued another substance of if there is a lingering effect of what he used earlier on,” fire chief John Alston told the news station.

The city’s director of emergency operations told CBS News, 911 dispatchers were flooded with calls as early as 8 a.m.

“Responding personnel found individuals suffering from a multitude of signs and symptoms ranging from vomiting, hallucinating, high blood pressure, shallow breathing, semi-conscious and unconscious states,” Rick Fontana said. “Two individuals had life-threatening symptoms, and the others had non-life-threatening symptoms.”

READ MORE: Fake marijuana laced with rat poison kills 3, makes 100 sick in U.S.

Fontana told the New Haven Register the situation was “very reminiscent of a mass casualty incident.”

“At one point, we had seven people, all at the same time, falling ill from the use of K2 on the Green,” Fontana told the newspaper. “We saw firefighters, paramedics, police officers running in different directions, attending to these people in a short period of time. There was no one who stayed on the ground longer than two minutes on this Green yesterday.”

Fontana said a sample of synthetic marijuana was tested by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in New York and was not laced with an opioid.

WATCH: Toronto medical officer of health calls on federal government to decriminalize all drugs for personal use

”It’s very difficult to differentiate who did what, but we do know most of those folks who smoked the K2 actually were tested by the DEA in the New York laboratory, and that came back as synthetic K2 without the presence of any opioid or synthetic fentanyl,” he told the newspaper.

Synthetic marijuana is a compound that mimics the effect of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It is typically sprayed or soaked into plants. The drug can be many times as potent as the THC in marijuana.

Gov. Dan Malloy said the mass overdose was “deeply troubling and illustrative of the very real and serious threat that illicit street drugs pose to health of individuals.”

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.

WATCH: Toronto Police issue warning after 7 fatal overdoses downtown

–with files form the Associated Press

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