Study: Synthetic marijuana puts thousands in the ER

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"This report confirms that synthetic drugs cause substantial damage to public health and safety in America," said Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske in a statement.

"Make no mistake – the use of synthetic cannabinoids can cause serious, lasting damage, particularly in young people."

In all, 11,406 of the 4.9 million drug-related ER visits in 2010 involved synthetic marijuana. Most patients were men between the ages of 12 and 29.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who is behind a law that bans the drug's chemical ingredients, hailed the study Tuesday.

"This report underscores that a federal ban was right to protect public safety," Grassley said in a statement. "Anyone who might be tempted to try this drug should realize its use can end in tragedy."