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Gov. Brown Signs Into Law Legislation Banning Synthetic Marijuana Products

Senate Bill 420 targets chemicals often added to dried plants and marketed as incense, sold in some Santa Barbara shops

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law this week a bill that bans synthetic marijuana products in amending the state’s Health and Safety Code.

Senate Bill 420, sponsored by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Los Angeles, targets the same five chemicals that the Drug Enforcement Administration classified as Schedule 1 substances in March: JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497 and cannabicyclohexanol, which are typically added to dried plants of some sort for products marketed as incense.

“Every person who sells, dispenses, distributes, furnishes, administers or gives, or offers to sell, dispense, distribute, furnish, administer or give, or possesses for sale any synthetic cannabinoid compound, or any synthetic cannabinoid derivative, to any person, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding $1,000, or by both that fine and imprisonment,” the law states.

That makes the punishment for even small amounts of synthetic marijuana products harsher than that for marijuana. Possession of less than 28.5 grams of marijuana is an infraction and more than 28.5 grams is a misdemeanor, but possession for sale is a felony.

Synthetic marijuana products include “K2” and “Spice,” which are sold online and in some Santa Barbara smoke shops packaged as incense as of April. Many websites have openly sold these products even since the DEA’s ban, but most say their products contain no banned substances.

As well as reportedly providing a high, synthetic products don’t usually show up in urine drug tests.

“The worst part is that these drugs are marketed as a ‘safe’ alternative to marijuana when they are potentially more dangerous than the real thing,” Hernandez said in a statement. “This law makes it clear that these substances are neither safe nor legal.”

There are synthetic products designed to imitate controlled substances — marketed as incense and bath salts — and manufacturers can be quick to adapt around banned compounds and change formulas just enough to stay legal, according to The Associated Press.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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