Pubdate: Tue, 30 Nov 2010
Source: Badger Herald (U of WI, Madison, WI Edu)
Copyright: 2010 Badger Herald
Author: Anna Asendorf
Cited: Madison NORML


U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration prohibits ingredients used in 
K2, Spice while investigating substances; will go into effect in 30 days

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued an emergency ban on 
five chemicals used to produce synthetic marijuana, a decision that 
will make products like K2 and Spice illegal in less than thirty days.

For the next 12 months, sale or possession of these chemicals and the 
products that contain them is illegal as more research is conducted 
on the effects and dangers of the substances, DEA spokesperson 
Barbara Carreno said.

The products will remain legal until December 24, giving retailers an 
opportunity to decide how to sell or remove inventory from their 
stores, Carreno said.

Synthetic marijuana is often found in stores and gas stations, 
including shops on State Street.

The DEA's decision to issue the ban follows an increase in reported 
negative effects of synthetic marijuana, like seizures, that 
scientists do not understand, Carreno said.

These differ from the typical effects of regular marijuana use and 
are oftentimes more powerful, leading to increased visits to poison 
control centers and hospitals.

The synthetic chemicals used to make products like K2 originated from 
research labs studying cannabinoids, said John Huffman, a professor 
of organic chemistry at Clemson University and developer of multiple 
synthetic chemicals, said in an e-mail to The Badger Herald.

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that include THC, the substance 
in marijuana that produces a "high" when smoked or ingested, Huffman said.

Since the development of these compounds, people outside research 
labs have created them, using them to make and sell synthetic 
marijuana products disguised as incense.

Huffman said the effects of these chemicals on humans have not been 
studied and people should not use them for consumption or recreation.

With little understanding of these substances, the DEA's ban allows 
time for more research while protecting the public, Carreno said.

Over the course of the ban, the Department of Health and Human 
Services will examine synthetic marijuana's effects on humans, 
including addictiveness and safety, she said.

After one year, they will offer recommendations to the DEA on whether 
the chemicals should be controlled, Carreno said. A decision on 
whether to make synthetic marijuana permanently illegal will then be made.

While the DEA seeks to stop the use of synthetic marijuana, Gary 
Storck, a spokesperson for the National Organization for the Reform 
of Marijuana Laws Madison, said he foresees makers of products like 
K2 will create different substances that circumvent the DEA's five 
chemicals ban.

Storck said synthetic marijuana is a symptom of marijuana prohibition 
that would not have surfaced if marijuana was legal.

He added with little known about chemicals in synthetic marijuana, 
regular marijuana remains a safer choice because of knowledge of its 
effects and its longer history of use.

Storck said he disagreed with the DEA's decision to prohibit more 
substances and the decision may hurt small businesses who sell 
synthetic marijuana while also creating more work for law enforcement.

But, since small amounts of marijuana are already not a priority for 
the DEA or local law enforcement, UW law professor says synthetic 
marijuana will probably not become a huge priority either.
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