Georgia lawmakers outlaw synthetic marijuana
GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Synthetic marijuana is illegal in Georgia – again.
Recently, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law a bill outlawing “all forms of synthetic marijuana.”
Senate Bill 370 – Chase’s Law, in memory of Chase Burnett, a 16-year-old from Fayette County who drowned in a hot tub after smoking the drug commonly referred to as “spice” – is aimed at successfully curbing a drug that has seen a rampant increase in usage, especially among young people.
But state lawmakers have attempted such legislation before – with little success.
The first generation of synthetic marijuana, or “herbal incense” as it’s marketed in head shops and gas stations, was banned by the state last year. That law targeted specific cannabinoid compounds present in popular brands like “K2” or “Spice.”
Those compounds, JWH-018 or HU-210 for example, bind to the same receptors in the body as delta-9-tetrahydracannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana. The compounds are added to a variety of dried plant substances, creating synthetic marijuana.
But the “incense” industry began to change those compounds slightly, sidestepping the law to keep their products on store shelves.
The second generation of the product is what Chase’s Law looks to stop, while preventing a third generation by generalizing the language in an attempt to identify the main compound and outlawing it and any derivative.
“Last year we tried to identity all the compounds we could possibly think of and, I think, we did a pretty good job,” said state Sen. Buddy Carter, who sponsored the bill. “But all the bad guys did was come up with some variation of it to get by. But this year we decided to try this other way – to identify just the base compound.”
He believes the new language will aid in the permanent removal and enforcement of the drug.
“This gives law enforcement much more latitude to enforce the law and get these products off our convenience store shelves,” he said.
But the question people familiar with the drug are asking is if the new law will effectively put a stop to the sale of synthetic marijuana.
“As soon as they make it illegal, (manufacturers will) make a new one and call it a different name and put a different picture on the package and that’s how they keep doing it,” said Jarrod Naylor, a resident at The 3D Life, a local residential program for troubled young men. “Then that one is made illegal and they do it again. It’s all the same stuff though.”
Naylor and housemate Ethan Vance are all too familiar with “spice” and its dangers.
“For long-term use, it’s just as bad as any other drug: meth, cocaine, anything like that,” said Vance, who used to be a frequent spice smoker and former meth addict. “I thought since it’s legal, it must not be that bad. But when I got off of it, I realized it was just as bad and I had all the same symptoms (as meth).”
The two are not alone. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one in nine high school seniors in 2011 reported using the drug.
Since the drug is fairly new to the narcotics landscape, not much is known about its long-term effects. Short-term side effects include seizures, vomiting, irritability and an elevated heart rate and blood pressure, among others.
According to the Facebook page of Smoke and More in Gainesville, Ga., the wait for a new synthetic marijuana might not be that long: “We are still talking to manufacturers and attorney’s about new Herbal Incense requirements. The fact is ... it’s already in production; but, everybody is being extremely cautious and dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s. Since we have always been above board and only carried legal product we are one of those that are being very thorough on what we are going to allow in our stores for our customers.
New product will be coming soon which is within the law to keep your homes smelling great!”
That quick turnaround in which a new strain could hit the streets doesn’t surprise anyone familiar with it. After the first generation of it was banned, the next was on shelves immediately.
“It wasn’t even a day later when they had the new stuff,” Vance said. “It seemed like they had it in the store waiting.”
If, or when, a third generation emerges doesn’t really matter, said Greg Brooks, director of 3D Life. It will not stop the problem.
“This is probably not a real popular statement, but the drug is not necessarily the problem,” he said. “It’s the reasons and the purpose behind the drugs that’s the issue. It’s the lack of parenting, the lack of involvement from the parents. Each of these guys that come through our program can tell you the same thing. ... Taking the drug away or outlawing the drug doesn’t fix anything. It’s just a Band-Aid over one certain drug and (users will) find something else to go do.”
Grass is greener! Fake pot brings in fat profits, American Herbal Incense Trade Association boss Rick Broider says
As Sen. Chuck Schumer and other pols push for ban, multimillion-dollar market rolls along
Rick Broider, president of the North American Herbal Incense Trade Association, refused to divulge New York-area members of his group because "everyone involved in this is subject to witch hunts and false accusations."
If there was any doubt that “fake weed” is big business, meet Rick Broider.
He is the president of the North American Herbal Incense Trade Association, which he says represents 1,200 members in a multimillion-dollar business.
His website keepitlegal.org keeps manufacturers, retailers and consumers abreast of which states have drafted or passed bans against many of the synthetic chemicals used in the product.
New York joined that group last week after a Daily News investigation revealed a growing number of young people are being sickened by the readily available designer drug.
Broider, who has 20 acres in New Hampshire where he makes his own herbal blend, argues the bans are shortsighted.
“These broad prohibitive bills and laws have effectively destroyed the right for herbal incense manufacturers and retailers to create jobs and taxable revenue in their states,” he said.
He refused to divulge the names of New York City manufacturers who are part of his trade group.
“We would love to be clear and transparent, unfortunately all of our members and everyone involved in this is subject to witch hunts and false accusations,” said the 39-year-old father of six.
But the marketing of synthetic marijuana can be sophisticated.
City convenience store owners get visits by salesmen — the Willy Lomans of weed. — hawking their lines of crushed leaves.
“For the last six months, a man has been coming the first of every month with a big book to show me all the products,” said Driss Fadrany, owner of “88,” a deli on the upper West Side.
“They say it’s legal — just incense — and that I can make a lot of money with it. It looks like marijuana to me. I won’t sell it.”
The products, sold under names such as “Dead Man Walking” and “Happy Hour,” contain synthentic cannabinoids that mimic THC, the key psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
The chemicals can trigger scary symptoms: racing heart, high blood pressure, paranoia, blackouts and worse.
“All these people who are hawking this stuff are interested in is making a buck,” said DEA Special Agent Jim Burns, who covers New York.
“They are not interested in what happens to the people who use it.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer is pushing for a broad federal ban. In the meantime, herbal incense pushers say they’re doing nothing wrong.
“It’s supposed to be for aromatherapy,” said Anastasia Mouratova, who runs the warehouse for Pricebidz, an herbal incense company based in Brooklyn.
“We just sell it as incense. All our ingredients are legal. To each his own.”
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Source: LSU suspends star players
Don't smoke 'fweed,' the 'real' thing is always the better choice. -UA
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Top-ranked LSU has suspended star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and running back Spencer Ware for Saturday's home game against Auburn, a school official told ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach.
A source told The Associated Press that defensive back Tharold Simon is also suspended, and that the players ran afoul of the team's drug policy. The source did not specify the drug for which the players tested positive.
LSU coach Les Miles declined to confirm any punishment for members of his No. 1 Tigers after Wednesday's practice.
"I understand the interest which surrounds what seems to be news. There is internal discipline and internal news," Miles said. "I have a process I go through. ... It's a procedure I'm true to. There is no real information about any player that I'll address at this point."
Mathieu has been one of the stars of the first half of the college football season. He has forced four fumbles, recovering three and returning two for scores. He also has two interceptions and 42 tackles including 1½ sacks.
Mathieu has made so many big plays in nationally televised games, a grass-roots Heisman Trophy campaign sprouted for the hard-hitting 5-foot-9 defensive back nicknamed "Honey Badger."
Ware is the leading rusher for the unbeaten Tigers with 512 yards and six touchdowns.
LSU is deep at running back and should be able to cope with Ware's absence. Michael Ford, who has rushed for 359 yards and six touchdowns, and Alfred Blue, who has 235 yards rushing and four TDs, likely will be LSU's top two running backs against Auburn.
In the defensive backfield, senior Ron Brooks would be the likely candidate to step in at cornerback for Mathieu, while fellow senior Derrick Bryant could play nickel back. When LSU fields six defensive backs, sophomore Craig Loston or redshirt freshman Ronnie Vinson could take the field.
Simon has one interception and 29 tackles.
The Tigers have a week off after Saturday, and play No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 5 in what could be the biggest game of the regular season.
LSU has already managed to stay unbeaten while dealing with the early season suspension.
"This football team understands what distraction is," Miles said. "I haven't seen a change in their get-along. I expect the team to take the field ably manned at all positions."
Quarterback Jordan Jefferson missed the first four games of the season, including matchups against Oregon and West Virginia, after he was involved in a bar fight.
Jefferson, who was slated to start, was reinstated on Sept. 28 after a grand jury reduced his felony second-degree battery charge to a misdemeanor. He and Jarrett Lee have been sharing the quarterback job since he has returned.
Receiver Russell Shepard missed the first three games because of an NCAA rules violation.
LSU is a three-touchdown favorite at home against Auburn (No. 20 BCS, No. 19 AP), but the Alabama game is in Tuscaloosa.
‘Fake pot' tied to rash of E.R. visits in Tuscaloosa
It sounds like a bad reaction to an illegal drug, but it's not. It's a bad reaction to a legal substance that can be purchased in gas stations and tobacco stores across Alabama.
Marketed as "incense," synthetic marijuana, sometimes called "fake pot," is a herbal product that has been treated with chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana when smoked. Similar chemicals were made illegal in Alabama last year, but chemists can alter the compounds to remain within the constraints, but perhaps not the spirit, of the law.
Users report that the effects are similar, if not more intense, than the real thing. Some gas station and tobacco store owners in Tuscaloosa who declined to be interviewed on the record about synthetic marijuana said last week that the product is a top seller.
"With pot, there's a level to where you can keep smoking, but you just don't get any more high," said a 34-year-old Tuscaloosa man who has tried it. "With this, there's no ceiling where that stops."
DCH spokesman Brad Fisher said that most of the people who have sought treatment are in their early 20s and are usually discharged within two or three hours, according to emergency room doctors.
Often called "Spice" or "K2," synthetic marijuana is cheaper, easier to obtain and doesn't show up on drug tests. There's no age limit to purchase the product, which is often labeled "not for human consumption." Businesses visited by a Tuscaloosa News reporter last week kept the packages of synthetic marijuana, which comes in a variety of brands, behind the counter. One business owner said he did so after speaking with law enforcement officers.
"We have gone in and talked to store owners because we're getting a lot of complaints," said West Alabama Narcotics Task Force commander Capt. Jeff Snyder. "We've told them that they need to think about who they're selling this stuff to. If someone uses it, leaves here and has an accident, I think they could be held in some form or fashion civilly liable."
Police say that it's difficult to enforce the ban on the chemicals that were outlawed last year because they have no way to test the product.
"That's our biggest problem right now — how to tell whether it's legal or not. There's no field test for it and it could take months to get results from a lab," Snyder said. Agents seized some of the product in February 2010 when they found a young man selling it out of his home near the University of Alabama campus. Authorities charged him with operating a business without a license, but not for selling the synthetic marijuana. Agents still have not received results from tests on the substance they took from his house.
"While we were there, 12 kids came by knocking on the door to buy this stuff," Snyder said. "We asked them why they wanted it, a lot of them said they liked it because it messed them up more than marijuana does. Just because you're smoking something that's legal doesn't mean that it's not going to harm you. People need to be a little bit more careful about what they consume."
Synthetic marijuana is not regulated, and potency varies among different brands. An envelope containing about 3 grams can be purchased for between $20 and $30 in stores and online.
The Regional Poison Control Center at Children's Hospital of Alabama reports receiving 67 calls from people who have smoked synthetic pot since October 2010, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Three were children between 6 and 12, 15 were teenagers and 22 were in their 20s. Of those, 76 percent were male. At least 56 were treated for toxic exposure in hospital emergency rooms. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, more than 6,700 calls were made to poison control centers nationally in 2010 and in the first seven months of 2011 about synthetic marijuana.
"This is an emerging and dangerous designer drug which has the potential of destroying lives," Dr. Donald Williamson, state health officer, said in a news release. "We want to explore the best solutions to prevent its misuse."
Williamson organized a hearing that was held in Montgomery on Sept. 19 and attended by law enforcement from across Alabama. Law enforcement and health officials all support comprehensive legislation that would ban any products that affect cannabis receptors in the brain.
Cops: 2 teens charged with possession of K2 marijuana
K2 is NOT MARIJUANA. -UA
Kristy A. Delillio, 19, of Beachwood was driving a 2003 Hyundai Elantra with passenger Amanda Harvey, 19, of Bayville on Route 70. The car was stopped for speeding at Route 70 and Route 539 by Patrolman Christian Nazario, Parker said.
Nazario found both women to be in possession of K-2 marijuana, and drug paraphernalia, Parker said.
K-2 is a synthetic marijuana that is illegal for a business to sell and for an individual to possess in New Jersey, police said.
The pair were arrested and brought to Manchester Police Department, then later released on complaint summonses. Delillio was charged with possession of marijuana under 50 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia. Harvey was charged with possession of K-2, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana under 50 grams.
Manchester Police have seen the use and possession of K-2 spike since the recent national trend of the synthetic drug, Parker said.
The Manchester Police Department has zero tolerance for anyone who is found to be in possession of K-2 or any business that is selling K-2. Strict enforcement in this area will continue throughout the township.
Aurora protest targets ‘synthetic marijuana’
Karen Dobner lays the blame on synthetic marijuana, which is created by mixing herbs with various chemicals to mimic the effect of marijuana. The substance can cause palpitations, vomiting and seizures and bring on panic, paranoia and hallucinations, experts say.
“I am trying to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. I want to prevent more tragedies,” said Dobner, who created an organization called “To The Maximus Foundation” to advocate the ban of the substances. Dobner said the group is planning more protests at different shops in the near future.
Holding signs stating “Fake Pot Kills” and “Boycott This Store,” a group of about 15 people protested in front of an Aurora store Saturday, exhorting passers-by to be aware of the dangers of smoking so-called synthetic marijuana.
Leading the protest outside Cigarettes Hut on Galena Boulevard was Aurora resident Karen Dobner, whose 19-year-old son Max died June 14 after reportedly smoking the substance, usually marketed as herbal incense or potpourri. Max blew through a stop sign, sent his car airborne and crashed into a house in North Aurora. No one else was injured.
Inside the store, however, co-owner Mittal Patel said she understood the protesters’ motives but was angry about what she saw as interference with her business. “Everybody sells it because it’s legal,” Patel said. “It is wrong for (Dobner) to try to kill my business.”
The Aurora City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal to ban the sale of synthetic drugs, said Mayor Tom Weisner, who took part in Saturday’s protest. Weisner said he expected the measure to be approved unanimously. “There are people who are willing to make a profit at the cost of lives,” he said. “We will enforce the ordinance to the maximum.”
Herbal incense sold under the brand names Spice and K2 will be banned in Illinois beginning Jan. 1. An effort led by House Republican Leader Tom Cross to ban all similar products is expected to kick off shortly, said state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia of Aurora, who showed up in support of the protesters. Chapa LaVia said she is working on launching an educational campaign aimed at PTO and PTA organizations.
As protesters chanted outside, Cigarette Hut customer Shirley Shepard of Aurora said individuals are responsible for their own actions. “He was the one who bought it,” she said. “Parents can’t treat their children like they are kids all their life.”
But protester Karen Rizzo of Bloomingdale said synthetic marijuana can make people incoherent, as it did her 23-year-old son, Michael, in an incident in late July.
Rizzo said she stayed in the house to watch over her son for 18 hours until he was back to normal. “I know drunk, I know high, but this was something I have never seen,” Rizzo said. “He didn’t know anything.”
Mother Builds Support For Foundation Against Synthetic Marijuana
Karen Dobner of Aurora today held a press conference to announce her foundation will start to boycott and protest stores carrying substances suspected to be synthetic drugs. Dobner thinks a synthetic substance played a role in her son's death
Can we please stop calling it 'synthetic' marijuana? Why can't we just call it drugs? -UA
By Charles Menchaca stcharles-il.patch.com 8/9
Karen Dobner said an Executive Committee has been formed for the To the Maximus! Foundation. The group is focused on education, cooperation and the eradication of substances defined as synthetic marijuana.
The foundation also will begin to boycott stores that sell synthetic marijuana or products suspected to be the man-made drug. Dobner said supporters will soon stage a protest outside a specific store that sells the products. She did not name the store or its location.
Dobner said she thinks synthetic marijuana played a role in her son Max's June 14 death. She spoke Tuesday afternoon on the Mooseheart campus, across from the house where Max's life came to an end. She was joined by family, friends, congresswomen Linda Chapa LaVia and Kay Hatcher, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and members of her foundation's committee.
"We want to do everything we possibly can to eradicate this product from the American shelves, starting with our own neighborhoods," Dobner said.
Synthetic marijuana mimics the effects of actual marijuana, but can have adverse effects such as panic attacks, hallucinations and a rapid heartbeat, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
U.S. drug officials said synthetic marijuana is packaged as incense, potpourri and sold in amounts as small as one gram in convenience stores. Efforts to outlaw the substances are complex and difficult.
Max Dobner, 19, and a friend on June 14 purchased a potpourri substance from a tobacco shop in Aurora and smoked the contents, Karen Dobner said. About an hour later, Dobner called his older brother Justin and said he was having a panic attack and an increased heart rate.
Karen Dobner thinks her son was in a panicked, hallucinatory state after he smoked the potpourri. Witnesses saw Max's car on June 14 moving at about 100 miles an hour eastbound on Mooseheart Road before crossing Route 31 and crashing into a Batavia Township home.