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Arizona lawmakers target synthetic marijuana drugs

The mix of herbs known as spice produces a high comparable to marijuana but is marketed legally as incense. K2 is a brand under which spice is sold. (Photo by the Drug Enforcement Administration)

It’s an illegal marijuana knockoff that can result in seizures, psychotic episodes and other dangerous side effects, but some teenagers can’t get enough of it.

Despite a statewide and federal ban on synthetic marijuana, some Arizona lawmakers say the state must do more to crack down on the drug commonly known as spice. A Senate committee advanced two bills Monday that would make it harder to use or buy the synthetic compound that activates some of the same receptors in the body stimulated by cannabis.

One bill would prohibit businesses with liquor licenses from selling spice. Another bill would expand the state’s definition of dangerous drugs and increase the minimum fine for selling or manufacturing those drugs from $1,000 to $25,000.

“Kids’ lives are being ruined, and I am going to do what I can to stop it,” said Republican Sen. Don Shooter, of Phoenix, the bills’ sponsor.

Under the proposed changes, the state could revoke the liquor license of any business found distributing spice.

Roughly 41 states have banned spice, including Arizona.

Law enforcement officials have said the state ban has had little impact because distributors of synthetic drugs can make minor chemical changes to try to stay ahead of the law.

Expanding the state’s definition of dangerous drugs should close that loophole, Shooter said. The proposed definition would state that “a dangerous drug is any material, compound, mixture, preparation or substance that contains any quantity of certain listed substances, including their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers.” It also expands the definition to include an analog that “has a substantially similar chemical structure” as a dangerous drug.

Last year, President Barack Obama signed a federal law banning synthetic marijuana and other such drugs. The ban placed 26 substances in the federal list of Schedule 1 controlled dangerous substances.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


  1. ok first of all ive smoked lots of spice since like 2008 and im fine
    howevere i know atleast 100 teens have died from alchol poison and other alchol related deaths also teen wouldnt get it if the stores did there job
    and id people my wife has a brain tomor and smokes everyday witch helped more then the pain pills witch are synthic heroin and leagl
    so how is spice any different maybe the us goverment should worry more about drunks driveing or even teen girls haveing babies then what us taxpayers do in our homes

  2. This drug has long lasting damage to your heart that people are truly unaware of. Yes the brain gets the high but the damage to the circular vascular system takes a pounding and can cause heart murmurs and even result in heart attacks in young people. I hope this ban gets all versions of spice out of the stores. Take it from a user. Your heart cant take it. Stay away. It took 200 years for people to realize what tabaco does to you. This stuff is triple the amount of tar. Spice users clean your pipes and look at all the resin buildup. Imagin the buildup going on inside your body. Stop using before its to late.

  3. I for one am astonished that reps like Don Shooter have time to deal with this worthless piece of legislation.While their are important issues that should be delt with instead!! If you ask me it’s time that the youth of the nation here take control form the old farts in office now. We should get a canidate and all back him.Show thes old farts that their time is up and like the dino’s their extinct and no longer needed!

  4. I to have heart problems from spice…….

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