In this June 29, 2016 file photo, a man holds a bag of synthetic marijuana in Houston. In a report released Tuesday, April 10, 2018, fake marijuana likely contaminated with rat poison has killed three people in Illinois and sickened more than 100 others in the past month. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Sheriff asks for help finding synthetic cannabinoids dealers after string of deaths

The Illinois outbreak started in early March and police say they are looking for dealers, not users

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — The Peoria County sheriff is asking the public for more help combating a deadly outbreak of severe bleeding due to synthetic marijuana.

Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell pleaded at a Tuesday news conference, “Please, please, anyone with information please contact us.” Illinois Department of Public Health statistics show Peoria County and neighboring Tazewell County have 66 of the 114 reported cases statewide as of Tuesday afternoon. Three people in Illinois have died.

The (Peoria) Journal Star reports that the sheriff said authorities want to know where the product is coming from. He says police are looking for dealers, not users. Asbell says health privacy laws are complicating investigations because they prevent hospitals from calling police when someone comes in for treatment.

The Illinois outbreak started in early March.