House votes to ban synthetic marijuana
Virginia took another step toward snuffing out the legal sale of synthetic marijuana in the state when the House of Delegates voted 98-0 on Monday to prohibit the substance known as "spice" or K2.
Law enforcement officials expressed alarm after the substance, which consists of dried herbs sprayed with psychoactive chemicals, began appearing as "herbal incense" in head shops, tobacco shops, convenience stores, gas stations and other venues around the commonwealth in the past few years.
Although treated with THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana, and intended to simulate the dreamy buzz of pot, spice has been linked to reports of seizures, comas, and other strongly negative psychological reactions such as hallucinations and psychotic-like effects, according to news reports and law enforcement authorities. The substance has been sold in the U.S. since 2006. As of October 2010, thirteen states have criminalized the substance.
The Senate passed its version of the bill, by a vote of 37-0 on Friday. Both chambers' bills would criminalize the possession and sale of the substance, but the Senate's bill has stronger penalties.
Under the bill sponsored by Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun), possession of up to one half ounce of synthetic marijuana would be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor that brings up to one year in prison; possession of more than a half ounce would be a Class 5 felony, which carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison.
| February 7, 2011; 12:15 PM ET
Categories: General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, State Senate
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