DEA takes steps to curb synthetic marijuana

Bradenton HeraldNovember 24, 2010 

MANATEE, Fla. — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Wednesday took steps to effectively ban synthetic marijuana products.

The DEA's emergency control will make it illegal to possess or sell the products that contain the chemicals used to make fake pot for at least one year while DEA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study these chemicals to determine whether they should be permanently controlled. The chemicals will be designated as Schedule I substances — the most restrictive category — that have no medical usage.

So far, 15 states, but not Florida, have laws in place banning the products. A state lawmaker last week filed legislation to ban the products.

Currently some stores sell herbal incense, often known as "spice" or "K2" and marketed under a variety of names, which is a collection of herbs treated with a compound that produces effects similar to smoking marijuana.

Because the herbal blends are not regulated and not considered drugs in Florida, local stores have been able to sell the products as incense. Local authorities were looking to prosecute store owners who sold the herbal blends as a drug, using the state's fraud statutes for selling an imitation of a controlled substance.

However, in 30 days possession of the product will be a violation.

Local authorities have become concerned about the products' use since people began smoking the herbal incense, which is sold at many local convenience stores. Notice was given to local businesses earlier this month encouraging business owners to voluntarily take the products off the shelf.

Some of the products have fallen into the hands of children and resulted in trips to the emergency room.

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