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Sen. Orrin Hatch Asks DEA to Ban Spice, K2

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #659)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Products containing synthetic cannabinoids possessing psychoactive properties similar to marijuana if ingested, have been banned in a number of states -- and more are currently considering bans -- but are not illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Not yet, anyway. Last week, Sen. Orrin Hatch, the powerful Utah Republican, sent a letter to the DEA asking the agency to use its emergency powers to make synthetic cannabinoids a Schedule I controlled substance.

a new target for the stalwart drug warrior
Sold under names such as K2, Spice, Yucatan Fire, and Solar Flare, among others, the stuff is marketed as incense or potpourri and can be found at smoke shops, head shops, gas stations, and other retail outlets in states where it is legal. It is also easily available via the Internet.

Users seek to replicate the high of marijuana without the attendant legal risks, but according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, they sometimes get more than they bargained for. The centers issued a report Monday saying that they had received more than 2,000 calls about synthetic cannabinoids so far this year.

Symptoms reported included nausea, rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, and disorientation. While the centers reported that some symptoms can be "life-threatening," there are no known cases of a fatal synthetic cannabis overdose.

"Young adults and adolescents are turning to 'Spice' as a form of legalized marijuana, Hatch wrote in his letter to DEA acting administrator Michelle Leonhart. "Currently, almost two dozen states have passed legislation identifying spice as a controlled substance. I am requesting your assistance in having the Drug Enforcement Administration exercise its emergency scheduling authority to classify Spice as a schedule I substance."

Spice use in Utah was at "epidemic proportions" among the state's youth, Hatch complained.

If the DEA accedes to Hatch's demand, synthetic cannabinoids would be officially considered drugs with no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse, like marijuana, LSD, and heroin. Sales would be banned, and their users and sellers would be subject to federal prison sentences.

But Hatch's demand is no guarantee the agency will act. The DEA has had salvia divinorum on its list of drugs of interest for close to a decade now and has still not moved to make it a controlled substance, even though it has been banned or restricted in more than a dozen states.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anon9 (not verified)

"Symptoms reported included nausea, rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, and disorientation."

Sounds like Marinol, which ironically has been heavily promoted by the DEA as a "safer" alternative to real marijuana.  Now everyone knows why sick and dying patients prefer the actual marijuana plant.  Anyways, DEA can't ban K2 without tarnishing the image of it's favorite drug. 

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 1:18pm Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

Richard Forno has a piece at Alternet in which he disses airport body scanners, but his complaint about Homeland Security’s invasions of privacy is equally relevant for addressing Senator Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) continual promotion of failed drug policies:

The name of the game is zero risk. Not risk mitigation, or accepting responsibility for one's actions, but risk aversion. It's a failure to acknowledge that we can't protect against everything bad that can happen to us, so we must protect against everything we think might -- might -- be harmful at some point.

It's living in fear.”—Richard Forno

Orrin Hatch claims the use of cannabis substitutes are at “epidemic proportions” in Utah.  Like most statements made by sadomoralist prohibitionists, verification of his claim is either incomplete or non-existent.

Utah does have its own peculiar crime epidemics that Senator Hatch conveniently chooses to ignore.  Utah is the fraud capitol of the United States, for instance.  The gullibility of Mormon sect members makes them an ideal target for con-artists, who themselves are often Mormons (for more details see the excellent best-seller Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer).

Utah also ranks 13th among states for cases of incest and child molestation, largely due to the insular character of the Mormon religion whose members make up about 70% of Utah’s population.  The regional joke is that a virgin in Utah is any seven-year-old who can outrun her father.  The Amish and many other isolated religious sects have similar a problem.

Of course, Hatch is unlikely to address critical problems in Utah that lead directly to revealing the failings of his own religion—even if it’s to save the little children. 

Cannabis, Spice and K2-type products are less likely to be used by Mormons, as their religion is so zero-risk when it comes to mind altering substances that most members avoid ingesting caffeine, nicotine or alcohol. Thus Senator Hatch is free to use illicit substances such as marijuana and its analogues to do some gentile bashing (a gentile is a non-Mormon in Mormon-speak).  And once again we see prohibition used by bigoted religious fundamentalists as a class warfare weapon.


Wed, 11/17/2010 - 7:05pm Permalink
kickback (not verified)

The pharmaceutical industry will have no part of Hatch`s twisted ideology. When people talk about how career politicians live in a bubble, this is what they mean. I`m sure that Hatch still believes that cannabis also has no medicinal value. Banning substances based on knee jerk ignorance instead of science and facts is what got us into this prohibition garbage to begin with.

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 8:41pm Permalink
Rookie (not verified)

I believe this product is sold as an incense.. It's intended use is then abused by the purchaser? If my opinion is correct, then using the logic of the government, next they will be able to outlaw numerous products.


Gasoline, can be used to make all sorts of dangerous things?

Paint can be abused..


The list goes on and on..

Some older Friends in Germany are so concerned about what they read in the news about the abuse of our freedoms in the US by the government that they are begging all they know here to leave.

They claim they have seen these steps before..The stripping of Freedoms.. The pat downs and searches..They fear for our safety believing this is East Germany happening again.. History tends to repeat itself... 

Fri, 11/19/2010 - 6:56am Permalink
Anna (not verified)

Nutmeg  is a wonderful spice; I use Nutmeg as a natural antidepressant; I buy jars of generic Nutmeg (stop and shop brand) for about $3 a jar; then I sprinkle Nutmeg in my tea liberally; during the day; works well; imo

(Nutmeg has psychoactive properties if used in excess; Conn. was called "The Nutmeg State...where I live !

Sat, 11/20/2010 - 7:16am Permalink
jboyzs (not verified)

""I believe this product is sold as an incense.. It's intended use is then abused by the purchaser?"


  This product along with everything else sold in retail "head shops" is considered drug paraphernalia as defined in that legislation. In Europe, they were also slow in dealing with the "head shop" issue and now are dealing with  synthetic crack cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine and cutting agents for illegal drugs as well as traditional fake illegal rugs used to rip off people in street sales.


" Anyways, DEA can't ban K2 without tarnishing the image of it's favorite drug. "


  I called my local D.E.A. office to inquire about their opinions on the matter and you don't know what you are talking about. The D.E.A. doesn't care about marinol or any other LEGAL drug being used properly. They take zero interest in legislation and only act when given a mandate by a member of the U.S. Congress or Senate. Anyone who believes for one minute that their "head shop" is a legal entity better wake up cause a Republican President is coming and those stores are history. They now have the legal power to seize websites and under civil asset forfeiture laws can take the property of landlords whom facilitate by leasing space to head shop owners- drug abuse. Young people are delusional, America is not becoming more tolerant of drug use, there will never be legal pot for sale at your local head shop. The U.S. Government will never allow marijuana or any other scheduled substance to become recreational. Try to understand that the D.E.A is one of the largest employers in the country, they are a profit-making arm of the government. It is one of the few that actually MAKE taxpayers money.

  The medical marijuana movement has effectively destroyed the glass pipe industry by associating waterpipes and handpipes with marijuana in shops in California. According to the D.E.A. glass pipes are only used for ingesting marijuana and they have never in their history seen them actually used or sold for tobacco. Not once have they ever busted a store owner and failed to prove in federal court that pipes sold in a head shop were not used to ingest illegal substances. Try reading Robert T. Vaughn's newsletter.

  This action forces companies dealing in or using the precursor chemicals that are necessary to manufacture synthetic cannabinoids  to obtain a license from the D.E.A. before doing anything or they are committing an illegal act punishable by the same standards as if they were importing heroin and selling it to junkies on the street. It also creates a legal path for pharmaceutical companies to begin study and manufacture of THC remedies for the sick and dying. Goodbye medical marijuana.....

Tue, 11/30/2010 - 10:58am Permalink
david lieberman (not verified)

In reply to by jboyzs (not verified)

where to start first these alleged head shops pay taxes and in doing so for the last 20 years will further there legal standing when having there day in court.

second the post office is the only federal entity that turns a profit.

third pipes have won cases in federal court check into it further steve hollowell who helped write some of the rico act and later spent his time fighting its injustices when used against smoke shop owners.

fourth spice is not for human consumption and is clearly marked so and is marketed as an incense

Sat, 03/12/2011 - 5:10am Permalink

While I do NOT agree with your comments about spice totally, if I understand it correctly, you are saying that the DEA is a danger to the country. I agree with that totally.

Spice, when compared to other substances we consume, is akin to candy, too much can lead to weight gain and then; whamo, type II!

The only thing DEA could do by making this illegal is drive it underground, increase the price to consumers and deprive governments of retail taxes.

The DEA answers to NO ONE, US Senators included. Mine has trying for 15 months to get them to provide a legitimate reason for keeping cannabis in schedule II. They cannot comment on record because it would require the agent answering to perjure themselves.

Wed, 01/05/2011 - 2:29am Permalink

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