Release: Synthetic Cannabinoids or “Spice” Now Banned in California

September 26, 2016

Governor signs bill to outlaw analog substances of synthetic cannabinoids

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1036, authored by Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), which bans synthetic cannabinoids in California. Starting January 1, 2017, it will be a crime to possess, sell, transport, or manufacture an analog of a synthetic cannabinoid compound.

Synthetic cannabinoids, or “spice”, are marketed as “safe,” legal alternatives to marijuana, and are made by spraying chemicals on plant material. The chemicals in spice interact with the brain in a manner similar to marijuana, but can be up to fifty times as potent with unpredictable effects.

The passage of SB 1036 is part of a multi-year effort to ensure that this deadly drug is kept out of the hands of our children.

In 2011, SB 420, also authored by Senator Hernandez and signed by Governor Brown, banned the sale of a specific formulation of synthetic cannabis. More recently, spice manufacturers began making slightly different variations, thus staying one step ahead of the law. This presented a difficult situation for lawmakers, making it impossible to quickly outlaw new substances as they come on the market.

“From the beginning, our intent has been to get this drug off the streets and keep it away from our children,” said Senator Hernandez, chair of the Senate Health Committee. “Now, with the signing of SB 1036, California law will stay one step ahead of manufacturers trying to skirt around the rules and poison our kids.”

The effort to ban analog synthetic cannabinoids grew from the heartbreaking story of Connor Eckhardt, who died after taking one hit of spice.

“We are pleased to see the Governor's proactive response to bill SB 1036. After the sudden and tragic death of our 19-year-old son Connor to a hit of spice/k2, we, alongside with Senator Hernandez and his staff, have worked tirelessly to keep youth safe,” said Veronica Eckhardt, Connor’s mother and the co-founder of The Connor Project. “We highly encourage every parent to get educated on this deceptive and deadly poison sold at your neighborhood stores.”

Numerous stories have highlighted the deadly impact this legal product is having across the state and country. Cities in California, including San Diego most recently, have begun taking measures to outlaw spice.

“SB 1036 establishes a uniform statewide standard by banning all current and future iterations of spice, ensuring California families do not have to endure the same tragedy that the Eckhardt family and other families have experienced,” said Senator Hernandez. “I thank the Eckhardt family for their tireless efforts to make the public aware of the deadly impacts of this drug and to ensure passage of this essential bill.”

Photos of Connor Eckhardt: Photo 1, Photo 2 and Photo 3.