DEA Bans Synthetic Marijuana Chemicals


The DEA has outlawed these "highly abused" substances
  • The DEA has outlawed these "highly abused" substances
The Drug Enforcement Administration enacted an emergency ban today on five chemicals used to manufacture "fake pot" products such as K2, Spice and Blaze. According to the agency's website, the chemicals are now listed alongside heroin, cocaine and, of course, actual marijuana as Schedule I controlled substances because they are "unsafe, highly abused" drugs with "no medical usage."

For now, the ban is not permanent. Under a federal law passed in 1984, the DEA has the power to temporarily outlaw non-medical substances "in order to avoid an imminent public health crisis" until an actual law is passed. In this case, the DEA says the synthetic marijuana chemicals will be illegal for at least the next 12 to 18 months while the Department of Health and Human Services conducts research.

The DEA's action is the latest in a series of crack downs by authorities on synthetic marijuana, a trend our colleagues at the Kansas City Pitch aptly dubbed "fake reefer madness." Fifteen states -- including Missouri and Kansas -- have already banned one or more of the chemicals listed by the DEA.

The chemicals are:
  • JWH-018
  • JWH-073
  • JWH-200
  • CP-47,497
  • cannabicyclohexanol

The chemicals were developed in the early '90s by a researcher at Clemson University. They stimulate the body's cannabinoid receptors and were originally intended to be developed by pharmaceutical companies for legitimate medical uses.

Around 2008, however, the chemicals started being sold online and in head shops for recreational purposes. They are sprayed on various types of plant matter and marketed as "incense" with labels that say, "not for consumption."

Earlier this year, the Missouri Poison Center reported a rash of incidents where people -- mostly teens -- experienced "anxiety, agitation, elevated blood pressure and fast heart rate," after smoking K2. (When a few Daily RFT contributors smoked the stuff -- you know, just to see if it was safe -- it just caused scorched throats and immediate feelings of regret.)

Apart from the new DEA ban, Missouri state law makes possession of less than 35 grams of fake pot is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Possession of 35-plus grams is a Class C felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The DEA says in a press release that their action today, "will call further attention to the risks of ingesting unknown compounds and will hopefully take away any incentive to try these products."

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.