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DEA Moves to ban Synthetic Marijuana

K2 and other synthetic marijuana products that give a marijuana-type high will likely be banned within a month and federal drug charges related to these products will be possible. The synthetic marijuana products are typically made of plant materials that are coated with chemicals that mimic the effects of THC, the active component in marijuana. Often labeled as incense or potpourri, synthetic marijuana is marketed under brand names including Spice, K2, Blaze and Red X Dawn. The products can sell for as much as $35 per ounce.

Authorities believe synthetic marijuana products have a high likelihood of causing illness. In February, the director of the Missouri Poison Center alerted poison centers nationwide about synthetic marijuana products after doctors reported a surge in patients affected by them. Symptoms from synthetic marijuana include a rapid heart rate, dangerously high blood pressure and hallucinations or paranoia. Fifteen states and several cities across the nation have already banned or restricted the products.

The federal Controlled Substances Act gives the Drug Enforcement Agency the authority to make emergency rules to avoid "imminent hazards to public safety." Last Wednesday, the DEA released a notice of intent to use its powers under the Controlled Substances Act to prohibit five synthetic chemicals that are used in making synthetic marijuana.

The notice of intent gives the public 30 days notice before the ban goes into effect, and if no further legislative or regulatory action is taken, the emergency ban will expire after one year. The five substances that will be illegal under the ban are identified as JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol.

Sources:

USA Today: DEA bans K2, other 'fake pot' products; Donna Leinwand, 11/24/2010

Schedules of Controlled Substances: Temporary Placement of Five Synthetic Cannabinoids Into Schedule I, 75 FR 71635-01 (available at www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov)

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