MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — They’ve been marketed for years as safe and legal alternatives to controlled drugs, substances like marijuana and cocaine, but synthetic substitutes sold online have claimed another Minnesota life.

Maple Grove police believe that 22-year old Alex Winterhalter died last spring after switching to synthetic marijuana, thinking it was safer. While on a high he accidentally shot himself while playing with a pistol inside his parent’s home.

His death came just one month later after 19-year-old Trevor Robinson of Blaine died from an overdose of the synthetic drug, 2C-E.

Ten other teens and young adults had to be rushed to the hospital after taking the drug at the same house party in Blaine. Shortly afterwards, the victim’s brother, John Robinson, said, “He was the one that told everyone else to be sober, so it’s like, why him?”

In fact synthetics substitutes can actually be more dangerous than the controlled substance they aim to replace. What’s even more alarming, according to authorities, is the relative ease in which people can purchase the drugs from websites.

“These drugs are just as dangerous as drugs obtained illegally on the street,” says Dr. John Cole.

As medical director of the Minnesota Poison Control Center, Cole says the dangers of synthetic drugs can’t be overstated. In many cases they can have more detrimental effects than even methamphetamines and cocaine.

“They cause cardiac problems, seizures, kidney failure and can even cause muscle breakdown,” said Cole. “They’re very dangerous compounds.”

And in at least two Minnesota cases, they’re now linked to causing death.

Bill Hudson

Comments (13)
  1. Erin says:

    While these synthetic drugs are not at all safe, Alex did not technically die FROM using the drug. The headline is misleading.

    1. G says:

      Key word was “Linked”

      1. Mike says:

        Did he have carrots in his system and would that also be considered, a link?
        It’s BS to always statistically use illicit drug use as a consequential negative outcome. If you willingly site the negatives than how can you not consider the positives? While his reckless and inconsequential behavior backfired on his plans, statistically the probability was extremely low that drug use led to his or anyone’s death. Accidents happen with or without the use of drugs, but it is irresponsible to us them as a means to justify something tangible to a negative without sighting it’s merits. Without drugs, we would be still listening to classical music, dance would be done in squares, and art would be dull and lifeless.

  2. Joey Olson says:

    Don’t play with guns. They’re not made for that. Drug or no drugs. Don’t use drugs as a scapegoat. Just like anything, too much can be fatal. Legalize it!

  3. Mr D says:

    So you are more likely to shoot yourself accidentally while high on synthetic weed versus real weed. I think they should find more idiots to do a study and cleanse the gene pool at the same time.

  4. What an idiot says:

    When playing with guns, I highly recommend coffee and a cigarette. You smoke a big fat spleef and you’re just gonna get curious if you can actually see the bullet sitting in the chamber by looking down the barrel. And then there’s the chance you’ll just forget the darn thing is loaded. With most other drugs you’re just not gonna care where you point it because you probably forgot you were even holding it. How do you think Elvis shot his TV? And for cripes sake don’t drop acid and play with the thing because at that point you’ll think you’re Nemo and can dodge the bullet. Come to think of it, if you follow the rules of safely handling a firearm, including avoiding doing so while messed up, you’ll never have to worry about shooting yourself or some poor schmuck who just happens to be near you.

  5. Murph says:

    Become hermits and forget about all this goofiness going on in the world.Everything you have is worth less than you think.Some of the things you don’t are truely priceless!

  6. Dave says:

    So the makers of K2 should include this warning if I’m reading this news story correctly: side effects may include guns magically appearing causing you to shoot yourself.

    Incredibly misleading front page headline, WCCO (“Another Synthetic Drug Death”)

  7. C-Man says:

    If these people (at least in the case of 2-CI; 2-Ct2, etc) looked up and adhered to the prescribed dosages, they would not be offing themselves.

    When you have a drug that is 99.9% pure, it is important to realize that you shouldn’t be ingesting a gram of it at a time.

    Now because of them we all have to suffer through drugs we either don’t know the source of, drugs of varying degrees of potency, or just drugs that are just not as enjoyable to use (trust me, 15 mg of 2-CI is considerably more manageable then mushrooms; you could talk to a Cop on 20 mgs of 2-CI, good luck doing that on half an eighth of mushrooms).

    1. kudos to the new age pushers says:

      Oh yeah, because we can absolutely trust the manufacturers of these synthetic drugs. I’m sure they have strict industry standards and truly care more about the safety of their customers than making a quick profit. I like your proposed standard for testing a drug’s potency however. I think all users should get high and then talk to a cop. Think of the trouble this will save them down the line.

  8. Zing says:

    Terrible journalism probably encouraged by law enforcement. How many times have you read a story about someone accidentally shooting themselves or other kinds of gun accidents? It happens all the time. In the case of synthetic weed: if you think it’s so bad (Which it probably is) why don’t you just legalize the real stuff. You simply can not overdose on it and I’m not sure how you get hurt laying on your couch. You might choke on a pretzel I guess but you would have to be pretty dumb. Speaking of which…….What kind of weed do people who choke on pretzels prefer? Answer: “George W. Kush”

  9. end prohibition says:

    2 things to note. If marijuana was legal and available then synthetic would not be the alternative drug of choice. If Prohibition as we know it ends, this will not be happening. It’s obvious that law can not deter humans from getting high. Change the law. The Feds last week (who need to get a grip in reality) declared that marijuana is as bad as heroin. The is where the government fails.

  10. Jeff says:

    I’ve smoked synthetic weed. This is BS. The guy was just stupid.

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