Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

June 20, 2012

Snyder signs bill banning synthetic pot

'Synthetic drugs are a very bad thing'

LANSING (AP) — Michigan joined a growing number of states with laws aimed at snuffing out so-called synthetic marijuana on Tuesday when the governor signed legislation outlawing the substances, which are often sold under the names Spice or K2 in stores.

Synthetic marijuana has been available in stores as a mix of dried herbs and spices sprayed with chemicals. The substances have been blamed for health problems and violent behavior, especially among young people.

"This is overdue," Gov. Rick Snyder before signing the package of bills. "Synthetic drugs are a very bad thing. We need to continue to learn that there are new variations coming. K2 is the next variation."

The new state law also allows the Department of Community Health to declare health dangers when other synthetic drugs pop up.

The new laws targets synthetic cannabinoids and products sometimes referred to as bath salts. They list chemical classifications that are prohibited and grants Michigan State Police authority to remove those drugs from stores by July 1 if businesses haven't done so.

At least 40 states have banned synthetic cannabinoids, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Under Michigan's new laws, anyone caught manufacturing, distributing or selling the substances can be charged with a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. For possession, the maximum sentence is two years. Anyone convicted of using synthetic marijuana could be hit with a misdemeanor that carries a possible one-year jail sentence.

A number of counties and communities across the state already have enacted their own measures banning the sale of synthetic marijuana. After those measures were passed locally, some convenience stores and gas stations received surprise visits from police making sure the items had been removed from shelves and storerooms.

AP-WF-06-19-12 2233GMT

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