Synthetic Marijuana Ban Mania Continues

The reflexive response of state legislators to respond to new, uncontrolled substances by banning them continues unabated this year as bills to proscribe synthetic marijuana have been filed in Nebraska and Indiana. Another synthetic pot ban bill is pending in Connecticut, and Washington state bureaucrats acted at year's end to ban the substances there.

In the bull's eye at the state house (image via Wikimedia)
Sold under names like K2 and Spice, the products contain synthetic cannabinoids that produce psychoactive effects roughly similar to marijuana. While about a dozen states and numerous municipalities moved against synthetic cannabinoids last year, the substances remained unregulated at the federal level until the DEA imposed an emergency ban that took effect on Christmas Eve.

But the federal ban has not deterred state legislators from acting since then. In Nebraska, Sen. Beau McCoy has introduced LB 19, which would prohibit the possession or sale of synthetic cannabinoids. That bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, where a hearing has been set for January 19.

In Indiana, state Sen. Joe Zakas (R-Granger) introduced SB 152, which bans synthetic cannabinoids and punishes use or distribution with the same penalties in place for marijuana. That legislation passed the Senate Corrections Committee unanimously on Tuesday.

In Connecticut, no bill has been formally introduced yet, but several legislators, parents, and members of the anti-drug abuse group Connecticut Prevention Network met Monday to call for legislation there. Rep. Patricia Wilditz (D-Guilford) said the substances are becoming increasingly popular among young people and that the public needed to be warned of their dangers.

In Washington state, meanwhile, the compounds were banned by action of the State Board of Pharmacy on December 30. The ban there came three weeks after a Seattle man struck three pedestrians with his vehicle and later claimed to have been under their influence.

"The chemicals are very potent synthetic cannabinoids and can cause harm when used, generally by smoking," the Board of Pharmacy said. "These are effects that can affect behavior, judgments and health."

Reported adverse effects of synthetic cannabinoids include panic attacks, anxiety, agitation, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, hallucinations, tremors, and seizures. No fatal overdoses have been reported.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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“These are effects that

“These are effects that can affect behavior, judgments and health.”

Like alcohol??? ban that too as well as tobacco! these things kill!! Don't ban marijuana as no one has died from it.

K2 ban is just a pro-alcohol campaign.

K2 is not unique in having side effects. "Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); black or bloody stools; confusion; diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; hearing loss; ringing in the ears; severe or persistent stomach pain; unusual bruising; vomiting." Those are the potential side effects from the drug known on the street as aspirin. 

Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers (IABR) has been lobbying for a K2 ban. The load of "Drug Free America" crap is just a pro-alcohol campaign. 

Here's a good one from the IABR press release:

"[Brad] Rider, whose company United Package Liquors owns and operates package stores in
Indiana and Kentucky, said his company has never sold the product.

The association is now challenging other Indiana retailers, tobacco outlets, convenience
stores and gas stations, to discontinue sales and remove, return or destroy supplies.

The IABR board voted this month to support lawmakers, including Ron Alting and John
Barnes, who have publicly stated they will be introducing bills to ban the substance and
create penalties for both users and sellers.

Rider, who serves on an advisory legislative committee to Drug Free Marion County,
said the association voted unanimously to support any new regulations—whether at the
state or local level."

Related news:

Bans on fake pot do little to deter business

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Authorities in 13 states thought they were acting to curb a public health threat when they outlawed a form of synthetic marijuana known as K2, a concoction of dried herbs sprayed with chemicals.

But before the laws took effect, many stores that did a brisk business in fake pot had already gotten around the bans by making slight changes to K2's chemical formula, creating knockoffs with names such as "K3," "Heaven Scent" and "Syn."

"It's kind of pointless," said University of Missouri sophomore Brittany May after purchasing a K2 alternative called "BoCoMo Dew" at a Columbia smoke shop. "They're just going to come up with another thing."

Barely six months after Kansas adopted the nation's first ban on K2, even police acknowledge that the laws are all but meaningless because merchants can so easily offer legal alternatives.

Until a year ago, products such as K2 were virtually unknown in the United States. Clemson University chemistry professor John Huffman developed the compounds in 1995 while researching the effect of cannabinoids, the active compounds found in marijuana.

Huffman had little reason to believe his lab work would morph into a commercial product. He calls users of K2 and its chemical cousins "idiots," noting the lack of research into the substance's effects, which include reports of rapid heartbeats and high blood pressure. It's often labeled as incense with warnings against human consumption.

Yet Huffman has little faith that the bans designed to combat the problem will deter manufacturers or consumers.

"It's not going to be effective," he said. "Is the ban on marijuana effective?"

He also doubts that law enforcement agencies will be able to devote the necessary resources to identify such complex creations as "1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole," the substance's scientific name. The compound sold as K2 is also known by the scientific shorthand of JWH-018, a nod to its creator's initials.

"The guy in the average crime lab isn't really capable of doing the kind of sophisticated tests necessary" to identify the substance, he said.

The bans were adopted by lawmakers or public health officials in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee.

Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Republican from Columbia, acknowledges that the marketplace has quickly adapted to his state's ban. He also firmly believes that the new law, along with a wave of media reports, is an effective deterrent, especially for potential users under 18, and their parents.

"We've at least minimized the threat to public safety," he said.

The Missouri statute identifies five synthetic cannabinoids by name, but leaves out many others.

Police and public health experts say that users seeking the more benign high associated with marijuana may be unprepared for the synthetic version. Users of K2 describe a more intense but shorter high, with effects lasting about 20 minutes as opposed to several hours.

Schaefer said lawmakers may consider a broader ban next year if the law proves ineffective. He also drew a sharp distinction between synthetic marijuana and the natural alternative.

"No one should confuse this product with marijuana," he said. "This is guys standing around in a factory wearing rubber boots and spraying chemicals on dried leaves."

The state bans were enacted starting in March. Similar proposals are pending in New York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. And many local governments have enacted their own prohibitions.

But new laws have not prevented a seemingly brisk online business. The website, for instance, touts its ability to "ship fast to any state" while noting its product does not contain JWH-018, the ingredient that was just made illegal.

Alternatives are widely available in head shops, gas stations, convenience stores and coffee houses.

Micah Riggs, owner of the Coffee Wonk in Kansas City, said his business is just as good, if not better, since Missouri's ban took effect. He says his newest blend is stronger and has a smoother taste than the banned form of K2. It's been so successful that Riggs is considering expanding his operations to Florida and New York.

"I researched this stuff pretty heavily before I started selling it," he said. "I'm not just going to take a risk with people's health."

The Georgia Poison Control Center has seen just a "trickling" of K2 cases since legislators outlawed the product in May, said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the center's director.

Lopez, who visited several Atlanta stores that continue to sell K2, said he was not aware of an increase in knockoff products since the ban was enacted. He said the trade in K2 has just "gone underground" now that it's illegal.

"If you play the part, and don't look like a DEA agent, they tell you they still have it," he said.

In Columbia, a smoke shop called BoCoMo Bay saw a surge of interest in K2 and its legal alternatives around the time legislators began discussing a ban.

Owner Kevin Bay said his loyal customers include factory workers, computer technicians, even soccer moms. The substance is also popular with people who must submit to drug tests such as firefighters, police officers and people on probation.

Bay estimates that he sells an average of 80 bags a day of the various blends, which cost $25 for three grams — similar to the street price for low-end marijuana. Demand is so high, it takes four employees working four-hour shifts, three days a week, to package the 2.2-pound bulk shipments into smaller servings.

Bay, who testified against the K2 ban at the Capitol in Jefferson City, calls the effort to ban the substance another losing battle in the war on drugs. If lawmakers adopt a broader law, that will just promote more innovation in the laboratory, he predicts.

"You can't prohibit something that hasn't been invented yet," Bay said.

Police in the college town offer similar observations. Since there are no reliable field tests for K2 and its cousins, identifying the substance is "nearly impossible" unless it's packaged with a K2 label or the person carrying it confesses, said Jill Weineke, a Columbia police spokeswoman.

The police department "isn't really taking any steps to enforce the new law because we really can't," she said. "The spirit of the law is appreciated by the law enforcement community, but the practical application of it is very difficult."

Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton offered an even more blunt assessment: "When they're constantly changing the chemical makeup, we'll be constantly chasing our tails."

DEA ban is NOT in effect

This article incorrectly states that the DEA ban went into effect Christmas Eve, December 24th. That is NOT CORRECT. As of 1/13 at 9 am all products remain legal where not otherwise prohibited.

 The DEA has not issued a final rule regarding their effort to temporarily ban theses five compounds. They will at some point in time issue a final rule, we do not know when. If you want protection and support for issues like the DEA ban, please join the Retailers Compliance Association (RCA) and protect your constitutional rights. The RCA is prepared to take the DEA to the Supreme Court to fight their right to ban these compounds without due process. We need your help to finance this fight. Go to our website to read more.

If you own a store that will be significantly affected by the DEA action, please contact us right away.


useless bans

the writer above is correct. Most shops continue to sell and online sales are over the top.

It would be laughable were it not for the total lack of concern about teen binge drinking (now at 25%; 17,500 teen deaths) and alcohol, the drug labeled the most destructive of all known drugs.

We are a sick society.

Dan is right....

"As of 9am on January 6, 2011 the DEA has not acted on the Notification to Temporarily Control five synthetic cannibinoids. So all JWH018 products remain legal unless otherwise prohibited.[34][35]"

They have convinced most people that this ban is in affect. They dropped the ball. The only synthetic cannabinoid that is illegal is jwh-210, everything, and I mean everything else is perfectly legal... 

Don't fall for this garbage!

scam sites

oh look, a helpful link by an astroturfing vendor.


dont ever buy anything but the chemical itself, and mix it with vaporized weed leftovers so you can smoke it. im making a guide on how to do this easily, after much experimentation.


i do think you need to mix this with other cannabinoids to balance and counteract... with just jwh-018 , you will get immediately high, not necessarily hungry... definitely not the hugely laughing high from smoking... you are just, HIGH, like sleep with the lights on high. but you come down to a comfy level quick. dont call poison control or go to the er, and dont smoke herbal incense... thats just stupid.


Rapid heartbeats, panic attack.... lol ... they never watched Friday. Its the chronic man, dont e'en worry about it - chris tucker

 Consider this line of


Consider this line of whatever they ares are alleged variants of the JWH products sprayed on botanicals

known and unknown.

If that holds true, the mixing with real marijuana should be the frugal way of using it. It stimulates the receptors. So what better to do with wide open receptors? SMOKE!!!!

I know some are using to beat drug testing.

I would do out of pocket testing to see what is what is but I know GCMS and they want  30g to do a  chromatogram. Not at $10g I'm not. 


Glad at least a few people know the Federal Register. We had a shop doing 2 for 1 Christmas Eve.

Mmm Purple Dragon.          

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