Synthetic marijuana banned across state

Spice is lethal because it gives the user a higher high than actual marijuana.

As of Oct. 24, synthetic cannabis, also known as “spice,” will be banned completely from Alabama stores.

Gov. Robert Bentley ordered spice to be removed by state police and the Alcohol and Beverage Control police force Oct. 14, giving stores a 10- day grace period to stop orders and remove the substance. The substance will also be categorized as a Schedule 1 drug, making the list with heroin and cocaine.

Spice was sold in packages decorated with a skull and crossbones design along with the phrase, “Not for human consumption” on the bottom.

“Why would you advertise it as being OK, yet the product itself had a skull on it,” said Suzanna Taylor, instructor of criminal justice at UNA. “Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it OK.”

Synthetic weed only had one molecule different than actual marijuana, making it legal. The new ban now covers the loophole.

“While it is molecularly legal, k2 and spice are molecularly lethal,” Taylor said.

UNA hasn’t had many known problems with students using the drug, but they have been caught with it on campus.

“We have gone into rooms and found it,” said UNA police Chief Bob Pastula. “It smells just like marijuana. We then send (students) to the Student Conduct office. Now that it’s illegal, they could be arrested or suspended from the university.”

While the ban covers more substances, officials believe people will always find a way around the law.

“They’ve banned stuff like that before, and they get more creative,” Pastula said. “That’s how they came up with this one in the first place. Kids in general always find something to alter their reality.”

While the ABC police deal mainly with alcohol, they received special instructions from Gov. Bentley to help with the removal. The process of removal includes visiting the retailers and having them sign a consent to search form. This allows them to search every inch of the stores. The substances found are then counted, boxed and taken away.

Spice is lethal because it gives the user a higher high than actual marijuana. No deaths have been confirmed in Alabama from using spice alone, however.

“We are not sure what it is,” said ABC police Officer Monty Merryman. “It’s in the process of being analyzed. Most places just ordered the pre-packaged bags labeled ‘not for human consumption,’ but some places were mixing their own. They were lacing, we suspect, with synthetic material that we are now analyzing.”

The police aren’t done yet.

“We are still getting reports of people selling it, but after the 24th, it will be like they were selling crack,” Merryman said.

The ban now specifically covers incense and other household items to keep Alabama safer.