Four Sarasota homeless hospitalized after smoking 'spice'

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SARASOTA, Fla. - Four people were transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital Tuesday after reportedly smoking a homemade herbal mixture laced with formaldehyde.

It happened Tuesday afternoon at Five Points Park in Sarasota.

According to the Sarasota Police Department, officers on patrol around 5pm noticed approximately 30 people in the park. An officer noticed a man face down near the center in the park and unresponsive. Almost simultaneously, three more people collapsed; two other men and a woman.

The first man who collapsed began fighting with EMS. He was able to be restrained and place with rescue. The second male became very combative and violent, needing five firefighters to assist the paramedic in restraining the man.

An officer found an apple that appeared to have been used to smoke the spice on one of the men.

The last two victims, man and a woman, were not violent but were extremely sick.

One of the men told officers they were smoking a 'homemade' spice that had been sprayed with embalming fluid and/or formaldehyde.

'Spice' usually refers to a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana and that are marketed as "safe," legal alternatives to that drug, but labeled "not for human consumption".  The products contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that are responsible for their mind-altering effects.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Sarasota Police Department at 941-954-7070 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS (8477) or online at