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Stillman Submits Bill To Ban ‘Fake Pot’

by Hugh McQuaid | Jan 10, 2011 6:38pm
(6) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Legal, State Capitol

Hugh McQuaid photo

Sen. Andrea Stillman

When Joanne Hoffman’s daughter returned from a year in rehab for opiate addiction, she knew her parents would be drug testing her on regular basis. So she began smoking another drug, one that’s legal and doesn’t show up on home drug tests, her mother said.

“She was sleeping a lot, lacked motivation, and couldn’t find a job at holiday time,” Hoffman said. “My husband searched her car and found the K2. As is the case with many kids, once they start with one drug it can lead to others. This time in addition to smoking K2, she also started smoking crack.”

K2 is an herb sprayed with a synthetic substance designed to mimic the effects of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Hoffman spoke at a press event to promote a bill that would ban the sale of synthetic cannabis and another substance, a naturally occurring hallucinogen called salvia.

“Both of these substances are not detectable in drug tests that are routinely conducted by law enforcement, possibly in schools, in the work place, or in the military,” said Sen. Andrea L. Stillman, D-Waterford, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Stillman said that smoking synthetic cannabis like K2 can cause panic attacks and seizures, while salvia causes profound hallucinogenic reactions.

Since 2009, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has reported an increased number of reports from poison centers, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies regarding products like K2, according to a December report from the Office of Legislative Research. The National Poison Control Center also is reporting an increase in calls from 14 in 2009 to more than 2,000 last year, according to the Connecticut Prevention Network.

“It’s time to ban the sale and possession of these substances and I, along with many of my fellow legislators, many of whom are not here because it’s a busy first day in the legislature, but we are introducing a bill to do just that,” she said.

The DEA had said that it would be issuing a ban on products like K2 in December of last year, however the agency has put that ban off until February, Stillman said. Currently K2 can be purchased as incense with no age requirement.

“So at the state level we must formulate policy and pass law as necessary to protect people from their harmful effect. As many as two dozen other states have enacted or are considering laws to do this and I feel Connecticut is behind the curve and we’re hoping to change that,” she said.

Nineteen states have or are considering banning salvia, which is currently regulated similarly to tobacco, Stillman said.

Hugh McQuaid photo

“The trouble is, because they are not controlled substances and therefore exist outside the boundaries of federal laws it does create an issue for those of us who write laws,” she said.

Stillman suggested that the enforcement of the law should be similar to the punishments currently given for convictions of sale and possession of marijuana. 

When asked if there have been any recorded deaths as a result of use of either drug, Stillman indicated that, unfortunately, there had been but had no specific information about the incident. But a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Justice said that there have been no reported deaths by overdose.

Daniel Malo of Free the Leaf, a cannabis law reform group, said the bill ignores salvia’s use as a spice and incense and its potential medicinal uses. Malo added that the use of the substances as recreational drugs highlights a larger problem.

“It shows the failure of our drug policy,” he said Monday. “[Because marijuana is illegal] people move on to dangerous substitutes that can be just some chemicals thrown together.”

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(6) Comments

posted by: ACR | January 10, 2011  10:42pm

ACR

Stillman introduces bill banning an already banned substance.
http://bit.ly/eTNZaZ

posted by: lothar | January 11, 2011  1:23am

Gateway drug nonsense. Legalize and regulate all of it. I can’t believe folks are pitching more bills to prop up the same failed drug war strategies. Hopefully there’s a fiscal note attached to the bill that clearly shows the cost of investigating, prosecuting, and incarcerating people who use K2. And since we only keep armies of police officers handy in our poorest communities, we all know where these new laws will be applied the most.

I’m sorry for the Hoffman family, really. Addiction is awful. Did it really start with K2? Was it nicotine? Alcohol? Or was it just sugar? Humans generate dopamine in a lot of different ways and it likely starts well before someone hands a kid a synthetic joint. Blaming addictive behavior on that first puff of weed or K2 is probably a little shortsighted.

Legalize it. Regulate it. Provide safe narcotics to addicts as necessary and cut the economics right out from under the traffickers. Making it illegal will only serve to proliferate the drug with the added bonus of violence in the streets.

posted by: robn | January 11, 2011  12:05pm

Interpol can’t keep ahead of small molecular tweaks to make synthetic drugs, so why does our Leg think they can?
Find a cure for stupidity and maybe people will stop putting things in their body just becuase it comes in a shiny wrapper.

posted by: John Dankosky, WNPR | January 11, 2011  1:25pm

WNPR Reporter Charles Desrochers reported on “spice” in early November.  At that point, no public officials we talked to had heard of the substance.  His report includes some background on its banning in some Midwestern municipalities: http://www.yourpublicmedia.org/content/wnpr/marijuana-substitute-spice-growing-concern

posted by: ashbash584 | January 11, 2011  1:27pm

Banning it is a waste of time and money. I mean, these k2 incense bans have been taking place in various states for the past year yet there are still places like, http://www.k2incense.org advertising k2 herb products that aren’t prohibited under ANY bans whatsoever.

posted by: ACR | January 11, 2011  7:42pm

ACR

ashbash584 said:
Banning it is a waste of time and money. I mean, these k2 incense bans have been taking place in various states for the past year yet there are still places like, http://www.k2incense.org advertising k2 herb products that aren’t prohibited under ANY bans whatsoever.

Not much longer, the DEA will simply use their “Emergency Powers”.

The DEA Cracks Down on Fake Weed

On Nov. 24, the DEA used its emergency powers to outlaw a range of heretofore legal ”synthetic marijuana blends,” creatively marketed as “incense.” When the ban comes into effect at the end of December, the chemicals used in K2, Spice and related products will officially become controlled substances, illegal to use, possess or sell.

It stands, Stillman’s hellbent to ban a substance that’s already banned, making her arguably dopier than the K-2 (etc. & et & al) that she seeks to protect us from.