Last week, Georgia’s Governor, Republican Nathan Deal, signed into law a new bill that makes all forms of synthetic marijuana illegal within the state, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Under the new law, synthetic marijuana substances, commonly referred to as Spice orK2, are considered Schedule I drugs, making their possession and sale a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Deal said he applauds the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and the Georgia General Assembly for quickly putting the legislation together, calling the passage of the law “a pressing need” for the state.
“These synthetic substances pose an enormous risk to our public safety,” Deal said shortly after signing the law. "As the usage has dramatically increased, instances of violence, bodily harm and even death have risen with it.”
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan told reporters the GBI is currently instructing law enforcement officials to notify local retailers that synthetic marijuana substances are illegal, urging them to destroy the products under officer supervision. Retailers that do not comply may have their inventory seized and face possible prosecution.
The state banned synthetic marijuana in 2010, but many manufacturers were able to circumvent the law by slightly modifying their product formulas.
Most synthetic marijuana products contain a chemical compound that mimics the effects of marijuana, which is combined with various forms of dried vegetation. Prior to the passage of the new law, products of the sort were legally sold by many Georgia retailers, primarily at gas stations and convenience stores.
Synthetic marijuana products are currently illegal in several states, including New York, Illinois and Oregon.
In 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration reclassified several synthetic compound substances as Schedule I drugs. According to DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart, there is a need to regulate and control such substances even further.
“Young people are being harmed when they smoke these dangerous ‘fake pot’ products and wrongly equate the products' ‘legal’ retail availability with being ‘safe’,” she stated in an official news release last year.
You can read more of JJIE's coverage of synthetic marijuana here.
Photo by Clay Duda | JJIE.org