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ST. LOUIS • A homeless man has been charged with dealing “K2” last month in downtown St. Louis about the time hundreds of people — most of them homeless — began overdosing on the synthetic marijuana.

John Darryel White, 56, who is listed as homeless in court records, was charged Thursday with a felony count of delivery or manufacture of an imitation controlled substance. White was not in custody Tuesday .

Charges say the St. Louis police department’s real-time crime center, which monitors surveillance cameras downtown, observed a suspected drug deal about 4:45 p.m. Nov. 9 outside the New Life Evangelistic Center in the 1400 block of Locust Street. Police said White appeared to have sold a rolled cigarette to another man, who told police he had just bought K2.

White was among three men arrested that day downtown. It was not immediately clear if the others, 26 and 52, had been charged.

Police arrested at least three more suspects Nov. 10-12 on suspicion of possessing and/or distributing K2.

Laboratory test results of brown vegetation stored in plastic bags, several hand-rolled cigarettes and cigars tested negative for controlled substances, court records say. Authorities have said that the makers of synthetic drugs stay ahead of laws by changing formulations once a particular formulation is banned.

Fire officials say about 300 people, most of them homeless and stricken in the neighborhood around the downtown shelter, have been hospitalized since Nov. 7 from overdoses of synthetic versions of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

K2 is the buzzword to describe synthetic cannabinoids sold in colorful packages with creative name brands. People on the street say a single joint may cost one or two dollars.