In a Monday statement, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) announced he had signed into law a bill outlawing the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana in the state. Georgia is the latest in a growing number of states that have moved to criminalize K2.
The Georgia bill, HB 1309, places K2 as a Schedule I controlled substance alongside heroin and above cocaine, Ritalin, and opium, which are all Schedule III. The bill passed by a 148-2 vote in the House and a 48-0 vote in the Senate.
"K2 is a potent drug that can be difficult to detect," said Gov. Perdue. "Adding it to our state's banned substances list will protect Georgians' safety and health."
While most users report pot-like highs, some have been showing up in hospital emergency rooms complaining of hallucinations, paranoia, seizures, and vomiting. Dr. Anthony Scalzo of the Missouri Poison Center in St. Louis told USA Today that reports of ER visits for K2 were spreading rapidly.
"At first we had about a dozen cases, but then it really blossomed. By the first week of April, we had 40 cases," said Scalzo. "Missouri remains the epicenter, but it's spreading out." There have been 352 cases of K2 poisoning in 35 states, he said.
Synthetic cannabinoids were banned in Kansas in March and Kentucky in April. An Alabama ban goes into effect July 1, while legislatures in Missouri and Tennessee have passed bans that will go into effect absent a gubernatorial veto. Bills to ban K2 are also under consideration in Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey and New York. It is also banned by a number of municipalities scattered across the county.