The Arizona Legislature is taking further action to combat distribution and use of spice, a synthetic form of marijuana that is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government and outlawed in Arizona and 40 other states. The Senate Judiciary passed two bills yesterday that strengthen laws against this drug.
SB1345 extends the current definition of "synthetic cannabinoids" to include any product made from synthetic chemicals, or a combination of chemicals and botanicals, that mimic the effects of marijuana, even if the substances on their own do not meet the definition of a dangerous drug. The bill would revoke the licenses of liquor stores that attempt to get around the spice ban by selling the ingredients used to create the drug.
The bill does not discuss penalties against tobacco stores or gas stations, which are required to be licensed by the state, or other stores for that matter.
SB1346 expands the definition of a drug analog, or designer/synthetic drug, to include chemical structures that are "substantially similar" to a controlled substance, and provide a "hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system." Persons found guilty of distributing or manufacturing K2 would be fined $25,000 or three times the estimated street value. The current fine is $1,000.
The federal government banned sales of active ingredients used to make spice in 2010. President Obama signed legislation outlawing spice sales last year.
In the past, K2 was sold in tobacco stores, head shops and gas stations and marketed as a safe and natural alternative to marijuana. More than 11% of high school seniors surveyed in 2012 reported that they have tried it, compared to 36% who have tried marijuana. Twice as many boys than girls tried the drug. In addition to reporting that it's easy to get, teens also liked it because it is difficult to detect in blood and urine tests.
K2 is smoked or used in teas. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there have not been any scientific studies on how spice affects the brain. Reported side effects include nausea, vomiting, hallucination, increased heart rate and has caused at least a few heart attacks. Some users experience withdrawal symptoms.
Many K2 users say they experienced a shorter but more intense high than from marijuana. Others report anxiety and paranoia, a less pleasurable effect also seen in some marijuana users.
To learn more about this legislation, visit the Legislature page and enter a bill number in the search box.