Up in smoke. That is what some might say on hearing the news that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) banned the chemicals used to make Spice, K2 and similar "fake pot" products, reports USA Today.
In essence, synthetic marijuana compounds containing JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, or cannabicyclohexanol are now officially illegal after the DEA placed these chemicals in the federal drug Schedule I on an emergency basis. They are now designated as having a high potential for abuse with no medical use.
Until now, Spice and K2 have been marketed as legal, fake pot and were often sold as herbal incense. They are popular with college students and teens.
According to the DEA, smoking these chemicals can cause convulsions, anxiety attacks, and dangerously elevated heart rates along with vomiting and disorientation. The DEA states:
This emergency action was necessary to prevent an imminent threat to public health and safety. The temporary scheduling action will remain in effect for at least one year while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) further study whether these chemicals should be permanently controlled.
The DEA was created in 1973 under the Nixon administration to enforce the federal drug laws in addition to consolidating and coordinating governmental drug control.
You don't want to get caught with these drugs since the penalty for simple possession of an ounce or less of a Federal Drug Schedule 1 item can be up to a $1000 fine. Moreover, possession of more than an ounce can be up to 10 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
The DEA says there is a strong public safety rational behind this action. According to Time Magazine, "Young people are being harmed when they smoke these dangerous'fake pot' products and wrongly equate the products' 'legal' retail availability with being 'safe,'" said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart in the press release announcing the ban. "Parents and community leaders look to us to help them protect their kids, and we have not let them down. Today's action, while temporary, will reduce the number of young people being seen in hospital emergency rooms after ingesting these synthetic chemicals to get high."