Pubdate: Thu, 18 Nov 2010
Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Copyright: 2010 The Salt Lake Tribune
Author: Katie Drake


A legislative committee Wednesday unanimously approved draft
legislation that would regulate statewide the drug known as spice.

The draft bill, sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, would
limit the manufacture, distribution and possession of spice. The
Health and Human Services interim committee gave the proposal a
favorable recommendation, which gives it momentum going into the
upcoming legislative session.

Spice, which is often marketed as incense, consists of plant material
that has been treated with chemicals that include synthetic
cannabinoids, the active ingredient in marijuana. Because the
chemicals do have medical benefits, such as prevention of nausea
during chemotherapy, doctors and researchers would be allowed to
continue working with the drugs but would not be allowed to prescribe
or dispense them for home use.

The bill would not add spice to the Drug Enforcement Agency schedule
of controlled substances but would create a separate list of
substances that could be regulated, said Paul Boyden of the Statewide
Association of Prosecutors. The list would include compounds that have
been detected in cases referred to the state crime lab, as well as
others that could migrate into Utah. Newly created chemicals could
also be added as needed.

"That's the problem with these clever chemists. aE& They crop up all
the time," said David Sundwall, executive director of the Utah
Department of Health.

Sundwall chairs Utah's Controlled Substance Advisory Committee, which
presented its findings Wednesday. He recommended a statewide law which
would clear up discrepancies among municipalities that have already
banned the substance.

"We have a patchwork quilt all over the state," Sundwall said, citing
cities and counties that have already passed ordinances banning the
sale and possession of spice.

Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids are not currently under federal
control in the United States but are banned in several European
countries, according to materials from the Controlled Substance
Advisory Committee. The Drug Enforcement Agency has labeled it a "drug
of concern."

The drug has effects similar to marijuana, but because its manufacture
is completely unregulated, effects and strength can vary widely.
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