Colorado lawmakers urged to ban ‘Spice’
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER – Police officers and drug-treatment experts pleaded with Colorado lawmakers Wednesday to ban synthethic marijuana known as “Spice” or K2, even though federal drug authorities have already put a temporary ban on the drugs.
The Senate Judiciary Committee started work on a bill banning several chemicals used to make synthetic cannabinoids, which are widely available on the Internet and mimic the effects of marijuana. Because the fake pot is typically sold as incense and labeled as not intended for consumption, there’s little oversight of the chemicals used in the drugs.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration banned Spice on March 1, but the federal ban lasts only a year while the agency reviews the new drug. At least 18 states have enacted permanent bans on the drug, and a long list of drug enforcement officers pleaded with Colorado lawmakers to list Spice in the same category as heroin and cocaine.
Spice is also banned in all branches of the military. In January, the U.S. Air Force Academy expelled five cadets for using the drug.
“You have the opportunity to be proactive and protect our kids … from these dangerous substances,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson.
The Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t take a vote on the proposal. Some worried that because the bill doesn’t include any money to educate people about the drug, some young people could end facing felony charges before realizing Spice is illegal.
“I have a little concern about youths – 14, 15, 16 years old – that would liable to this punishment,” said Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver.
Also, a handful of people testified that the ban is unnecessary.
David K. Williams Jr., a Denver lawyer, said a state ban would be like banning table salt or fatty foods in restaurants. Asked about whether a ban wouldn’t help discourage Spice use among youths, Williams scoffed.
“It’s my responsibility to teach my daughter to make good decisions, not the government’s,” Williams said.
The sponsor of the ban, Senate Republican Leader Mike Kopp of Littleton, rejected the comparison to salt and fatty foods and said a state synthetic marijuana ban is urgently needed.
“They’re selling these kids a ticket to the emergency room. We shouldn’t put up with that,” Kopp said.
The measure would also ban salvia, a hallucinogen.
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