Doctors say a 26-year-old South Florida man is lucky to be alive after smoking synthetic marijuana.
"I tried dealing with it, I just couldn't stop throwing up," Sean Beard said. "Couldn't stop coughing. My eyes went bloodshot on me."
Beard, of Sunrise, has been recovering from kidney failure for the past two weeks at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale. He said after smoking a synthetic marijuana product, his health began to fail him.
"He was very sick, he was in out ICU. He was very closely monitored with the nurses," nephrologist Dr. Parham Eftekhari said.
Eftekhari said Beard was brought to the hospital in dire condtion. A team researchers scrambled to pinpoint the cause of Beard's rapid health failure by running a number of tests.
"He had normal kidneys two weeks ago, and something happened to trigger this reaction, and we have a biopsy from the tissue now to know that it's the diagnosis, and we suspect that it's the synthetic marijuana," Eftekhari said.
Beard said he's only smoked a few grams of synthetic marijuana only a couple of times. Because synthetic drugs are not heavily regulated and the ingredients are not included on the packaging, it can be difficult to know is triggering violent physical reactions, Eftekhari said.
Beard's mother, Gail, said she was shocked that she could easily walk into a convenience store and purchase a synthetic marijuana product called "Cloud Nine."
"Look at it, it looks like a bubble gum wrapper, you know, big smiley faces. The kids'll think it's cool, you know, but it's not," Beard said.
Sweetwater recently became the first municipality in the nation to ban the sale of fake marijuana, and several local cities have expressed interest in doing the same.
After spending two weeks recovering from kidney failure, Beard said he would never go near synthetic marijuana, if he could do it all over again.
Related Story: Sweetwater Police Seeking Ban of Synthetic Marijuana