Governor Brown Approves Ban on Synthetic Marijuana

October 3, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                      Contact:  Rob Charles   (626) 430-2499

Governor Brown Approves Ban on Synthetic Marijuana 

Sacramento, CA – Legislation authored by Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez, O.D. (D – West Covina) which criminalizes the sale of several synthetic marijuana compounds was signed into law by Governor Brown.  Hernandez’ bill, SB420, makes the sale of synthetic cannabinoids, also referred to as “Spice” or “K2,” punishable by imprisonment, a fine, or both.

“These products are being sold over the counter and targeted at our young people as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana, but the reality is that these chemicals are untested for human consumption and so dangerous that the federal government already listed them as controlled substances,” said Hernandez, “Governor Brown’s signature on this bill means we are better able to protect our kids and our communities from this poison.”

In the last two years there has been a significant increase in the availability of these “herbal” products consisting of plant material coated with chemicals that allegedly provide a high similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.  The packaging for synthetic marijuana is often conspicuous and professionally done, and has been sold under brand names like “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn.” The products can be found at a wide variety of retailers including tobacco shops, gas stations, convenience stores, and online sellers.

On March 24, 2010, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported receiving 112 calls from 15 states related to synthetic marijuana.  Just nine months later, the number of calls increased to over 2,700 from 49 states and the District of Columbia.  Due to its widespread abuse, at least 18 states, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, several countries, and all five branches of the U.S. military have already taken action to control one or more of these chemicals. Emergency room physicians and the California Poison Control System report that individuals that use these types of products experience serious side effects which include; combativeness, delirium, panic, convulsions, seizures, anxiety attacks, dangerously elevated heart rates, increased blood pressure, vomiting, and disorientation.

SB 420 imposes a $1,000 fine and/ or up to six months in possible county jail time for the possession with intent to sell of any of the five synthetic cannabinoid compounds that the DEA added to the CSA list, as well as any synthetic derivative of these compounds.

“The worst part is that these drugs are marketed as a ‘safe’ alternative to marijuana when they are potentially more dangerous than the real thing,” added Hernandez, “This law makes it clear that these substances are neither safe nor legal.”