Marijuana-Like Herbal Substances To Be Banned In Texas

A statewide ban kicks in tomorrow on products that look like marijuana, and cause users to have a pot-like high. But they're not marijuana. David Pitman has more.

The synthetic marijuana is sold under names like K2 and Spice.  They're found in smoke shops, convenience stories, and on the Internet.  The packages typically contain something like potpourri or herbal incense sprayed with a combination of five chemicals which produce a sensation similar to the active ingredient in marijuana.  Christine Mann with the Department of State Health Services says the state's ban follows the federal government's example.

"We took this action because the federal Drug Enforcement Administration placed those five chemicals on its federal schedules.  And state law requires our agency to consider placing the same substances on the Texas schedule of controlled substances.  And that's what we did."

Mann says over the last two years, calls to the Texas Poison Center Network reporting bad reactions to K2 use went up from fewer than a dozen, to more than 600.

"The types of adverse effects associated with smoking this product includes chest pain, heart palpitations, agitation, drowsiness, hallucinations, vomiting, dizziness, and the list goes on."

Mann says chemicals in K2 or Spice have no accepted medical use, and are not intended for human consumption.  Starting Friday, anyone caught making, selling, or possessing synthetic marijuana will be charged with a misdemeanor and could face $4,000 in fines and up to a year in jail if convicted.

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

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