New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs has banned all forms of synthetic drugs that mimic marijuana’s effects. Previously, five types of synthetic marijuana had been banned in the state, but New Jersey has joined three other states in banning all forms of the drug. Most states ban some form of the substance, as does the federal government. The all-inclusive ban is the latest attempt by New Jersey to crack down on drug crimes.
Synthetic marijuana is a mixture of synthetic compounds chemically similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, mixed with plant material. When smoked, these synthetic drugs mimic the effects of marijuana. Synthetic marijuana is now the third-most abused drug among U.S. high school students, the National Institute on Drug Abusereported, with over 11 percent of students self-reporting use of the drug. The most familiar brand names are K2 and Spice, but the drug can also go by Fake Weed, Black Mamba, Space Cadet, and Cloud 9, among others.
The order immediately went into effect without legislative approval, and will remain so for 270 days. The Division of Consumer affairs has the power to enforce the ban under the state’s Controlled Substances Act. After the ban expires, the legislature must act to keep it in place. The restriction immediately bans the sale, distribution and possession of synthetic marijuana, and conviction may result in a three- to five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $25,000.
Authorities have had trouble enforcing the previous synthetic marijuana law, as new variations have risen in the wake of the original ban. Small variations allowed gas stations and other stores to sell the product legally, despite it having largely the same effects as banned substances, because the new chemical compounds were not specifically outlawed.
Synthetic marijuana has been associated with an increase in blood pressure, convulsions, anxiety attacks, elevated heart rates, vomiting and hallucinations. The last symptom, along with the other psychological effects of the drug, are the most alarming for law enforcement. Five deaths occurred among young users of the substance in 2011, and experts have seen side effects from the use of synthetic marijuana that mimic symptoms of schizophrenia.
Contact an Attorney
Law enforcement officials have only begun to enforce the ban. If you are facing charges regarding the sale, distribution or possession of synthetic marijuana, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can defend your rights in court.