You may have heard a few months ago that the Drug Enforcement Administration had banned “synthetic marijuana” (actually not much like marijuana, and quite a bit more dangerous) on the federal level — but that didn’t settle the issue once and for all. The stuff’s back again, in a slightly different form. Developers have changed the chemical just enough so that the form made illegal by the DEA is no longer present, thereby allowing it to be sold.
One of the most popular brands of the synthetic marijuana — sold as incense to get around rules applying to substances for human consumption — is called Barely Legal
, reports Jerome Burdi at the Orlando Sun-Sentinel
Barely Legal is part of the comeback of artificial cannabis substitutes specifically designed, first, to get around the ban on marijuana, and now, to get around the ban on the original form of synthetic marijuana, which contained the chemical JWH-018. This is done by tweaking a couple of molecules just enough so that it’s no longer “illegal.”
The company is advertising “10X STRONGER THEN [sic]THE ORIGINAL BARELY LEGAL!!!” on its website
The products are sold as incense or potpourri, and include warning labels reading “Not for human consmption.”
Many states are adding their own laws to the federal ban on the original form of synthetic marijuana. A new Florida law will take effect on Friday, making possession or sale of less than three grams of synthetic marijuana a misdemeanor, and more than three grams a third-degree felony.
The new variety, being technically legal, can once again be obtained online, in smoke shops, and some mini-marts.
“It’s not the mellow marijuana experience people are expecting,” warned Wendy Stephan of the Florida Poison Control Center in Miami, who claimed that emergency overdose calls had once again gone up since the new version was introduced.
Dr. Anthony Scalzo, toxicology professor at St. Louis University, said that intense irritability, nausea leading to vomiting, shaking, and even seizures and hallucinations as some of the side effects. He described the chemicals used to make “synthetic marijuana” as “neither natural nor safe.”
The effects of these chemicals are freaking people out to a much greater extent than marijuana ever has. So far just this year, almost 200 calls have been made to overdose crisis lines in Florida alone after people — OK, mostly clueless young people — have smoked the stuff.