Northeast Times

New law aims to prohibit all types of synthetic marijuana

Stricter laws: Syn­thet­ic marijuana, of­ten sold in gas sta­tions, smoke shops and con­veni­ence stores, is labeled with names like Kush (shown above), Cloud Nine, Krypton­ite and Dead Man.

Gov. Tom Corbett earli­er this month signed le­gis­la­tion that makes it harder for the makers of syn­thet­ic marijuana and oth­er syn­thet­ic drugs to dodge ar­rest.

“This le­gis­la­tion is aimed at com­bat­ing the prac­tice of il­leg­al drug man­u­fac­tur­ers who con­tin­ue to find new syn­thet­ic com­pounds not on the con­trolled sub­stances list in which to cre­ate new harm­ful drug cock­tails,” said state Rep. Jerry Stern (R-Blair), the au­thor of House Bill 1217.

Syn­thet­ic marijuana, of­ten sold in gas sta­tions, smoke shops and con­veni­ence stores in small pack­ages labeled with names like Kush, Cloud Nine, Krypton­ite and Dead Man, is the second most ab­used drug by Amer­ic­an teens, ac­cord­ing to the White House. It is any kind of dried ve­get­able mat­ter sprayed with a sub­stance that sim­u­lates the high of marijuana, the drug most ab­used by teens.

“Bath salts” is the street name for any num­ber of sub­stances that sim­u­late the ef­fects of co­caine or amphet­am­ines. They’re called “bath salts” be­cause they look like Ep­som salts.

Syn­thet­ic marijuana and bath salts have been il­leg­al in Pennsylvania since 2011. Stern au­thored le­gis­la­tion that year that ad­ded them to the state’s list of con­trolled sub­stances.

However, drug makers would al­ter the for­mu­las to make sub­stances there were not il­leg­al, Phil­adelphia Dis­trict At­tor­ney Seth Wil­li­ams stated in a Ju­ly 3 email to the North­east Times.

Labs across the state were find­ing the chem­ic­al com­pounds “chan­ging al­most daily,” Stern said in a Ju­ly 3 phone in­ter­view.

“The new law ad­dresses this prob­lem by de­fin­ing the core com­pound of these drugs so that, if the man­u­fac­tur­ers modi­fy the com­pos­i­tion of the product, the drug will re­main pro­hib­ited,” Wil­li­ams stated. “We be­lieve this ap­proach will lim­it the abil­ity of il­li­cit il­leg­al drug man­u­fac­tur­ers to skirt the law by tweak­ing the for­mu­las of bath salts and syn­thet­ic marijuana.”

For Stern, it was bath salts and the five deaths their use had caused in Blair County that spurred the 2011 le­gis­la­tion. Use of the de­sign­er drug was epi­dem­ic in Blair, he said, and emer­gency rooms and po­lice de­part­ments were not pre­pared for people ex­per­i­en­cing hal­lu­cin­a­tions and ex­hib­it­ing para­noid be­ha­vi­or.

That’s changed, he said. Of­ficers are be­ing trained to re­cog­nize the be­ha­vi­or of bath salts users.

ldquo;They act dif­fer­ently,” he said. “They think they are in­des­truct­ible.” ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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