Washington, DC: Members of the US Congress, House of Representatives voted 317 to 98 last week in support of HR 1254, the Synthetic Drug Control Act. The act criminalizes the possession or use of “any substance that is a cannabinoid receptor type 1 agonist” by classifying all such substances as Schedule I prohibited drugs under federal law “unless [the substance is] specifically exempted or … listed in another schedule.”
If passed, the measure would prohibit under federal law the possession and sale of chemical agents contained in so-called ‘fake’ herbal marijuana products, commonly sold over-the-counter under the brand names ‘K2’ and ‘Spice.’
The measure now awaits action in the Senate.
Senate companion legislation, S. 605, also remains pending.
In March, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) exercised its ’emergency scheduling authority’ to criminally prohibit the possession and sale of several of the synthetic cannabinoids contained in over-the-counter products such as Spice.
Commenting on the Congressional vote, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “The growing popularity of these synthetic cannabinoid products is a predictable outgrowth of criminal marijuana prohibition. As prohibition is apt to do, it has driven the production of a commodity into the hands of unregulated, unknown dealers, driven up the potency of the commodity, and in doing so created a scenario where the consumer is faced with a potentially greater health risks than they would be had they simply had the legal choice to use the product they actually desired, in this case cannabis.”
He added, “No doubt the consumption of some of these unregulated products may pose risks to the consumer. However, it is hard to fathom that these potential risks will be lessened by further driving the products underground as opposed to regulating thereby allowing for the opportunity for quality control, laboratory testing, labeling, and human trials.”
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500.