Synthetic marijuana, often called "spice" or "K2," is now officially illegal in the state of Georgia after Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill outlawing the substance Tuesday.
Enforcement of the new drug crime was to begin right away Wednesday, with Atlanta police officers arresting anyone who may be in possession of or selling synthetic marijuana, according to a recent news report.
The bill, "Chases's Law," was drafted in the aftermath of a Georgia teenager's death following smoking the substance. There have been other reports of severe side effects including brain damage.
Synthetic marijuana is generally marketed as an herbal product, or incense, and sold at smoke shops and convenience stores. Because it is sold through these legitimate avenues, many buyers may not have realized that it may be harmful.
Synthetic marijuana is designed to imitate the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, the component in marijuana that provides a high. The effects of the synthetics can reportedly vary greatly from person to person due to a combination of different chemicals in the substance.
Georgia state lawmakers have actually passed a bill that banned synthetic marijuana in 2010, but the manufacturers of the product have altered ingredients in order to get around the ban. The new bill bans synthetic marijuana in all chemical forms in order to close any potential loopholes.
In a statement, Deals said: "These synthetic substances pose an enormous risk to our public safety... As the usage has dramatically increased, instances of violence, bodily harm and even death have risen with it."
Source: The Athens Red and Black, "Synthetic marijuana now illegal in Georgia," Polina Marinova, March 27, 2012