NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Officials gathered in Brooklyn on Tuesday to call attention to the increasing problem of K2, or synthetic marijuana.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hosted a news conference along with Brooklyn resident Della Ellis, who is recovering from an addiction to K2.

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“I was introduced to K2 with some friends. We bought it at the store for $5,” Ellis said. “It was fun at first. Then it became a habit. From weekends to everyday use.”

Adams hopes to highlight the human impact of its usage in Brooklyn, and elsewhere in the city.

“New York City saw a 220 percent increase in emergency room visits related to synthetic drugs,” Adams said. “People sometimes smoke it in the belief it is marijuana, only to find out it is not marijuana.”

Adams was joined by representatives of the NYPD, Department of Consumer Affairs and the Department of Health to discuss the challenges posed by the drug.

“Some of the impact of using this drug is heavy sedation, increased heart rate, hallucination, paranoia, anxiety, vomiting, high blood pressure, seizure, loss of consciousness and violence,” Adams said.

“This is the 21st-century version of angel dust,” Adams said, adding that during the 1970s “law enforcement agencies and government moved swiftly to classify angel dust as a dangerous drug, but here we’re moving at an alarming, slow pace.”

Ellis said she thought the drug was going to kill her “when my heart almost stopped.”

“My heart was beating drastically, the tingling in my legs — it scared me real bad, and I thought I was going to pass away,” Ellis said.

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The NYPD admits use of the drug is a crisis, and while many users enter a catatonic state, a few can turn violent.

In a disturbing video obtained by CBS2, a naked homeless man, said to be under the influence of synthetic marijuana, is seen blocking a Brooklyn school safety vehicle. The man is howling and irrational.

Using or selling K2 isn’t a criminal offense, 1010 WINS reported. Selling or manufacturing the drug is only a state health-code violation, punishable by a $250 fine.

It’s often sold in a variety of branded packaging. Drug makers often get around bans by tweaking the formula slightly, CBS2’s Diane Macedo reported.

But some lawmakers are trying to crack down on its sales.

Adams is supporting legislation that increases penalties, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, meanwhile, is proposing a measure to outlaw synthetic pot, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.

“This legislation just makes it illegal to sell this product, period,” she said. “If you’re caught, there’s fines, penalties. You can revoke tobacco licenses of delis. You could shut a business down.”

Under Mark-Viverito’s proposal, anyone selling K2 would be subject to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The second offense would mean a civil penalty of up to $25,000.

Last week, state Sen. Jeffrey Klein, D-Bronx/Westchester, announced he would introduce legislation making the sale of synthetic pot a crime with the same penalties as selling marijuana.

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Adams added that he’s asking the DEA to add synthetic marijuana to the controlled substances list, and in the meantime is urging anyone who sees K2 in any store to call 311 immediately.