Archived Story

Ask Trooper Rob: Synthetic marijuana becomes illegal July 1

Published 8:06pm Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Michigan State Police, statewide, began notification Monday to retailers and the public regarding the new law of synthetic marijuana, which takes effect July 1, 2012.

We are contacting retailers suspected of selling or currently selling the product for voluntary removal and destruction of the synthetic marijuana (K2, White Snow, etc.). The idea behind the initiative is to educate and hope for voluntary compliance prior to the law taking effect. After July 1, the product will be illegal and charges will be filed for those locations and people selling or possessing it.

Synthetic marijuana is a mixture of dried herbs and spices sprayed with chemicals that, when smoked, create a high similar to THC, the main ingredient in marijuana.

Spice and K2 are two popular names for these products. It is usually sold as dried leaves in a small bag. It is usually labeled as incense, potpourri or herbal smoking blend.

It is sold under a variety of brand names, such as K2, Spice, Genie, Yucatan Fire, King Krypto, Mr. Nice Guy, K-3, Red Magic, Blueberry Medication, Super Skunk, Black Mamba, Bliss, Bombay Blue and Zohai. The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Poison Control Center (PCC) has noticed the use of newer products that “claim” to be stronger.

Their name contains an “X” such as “11X,” indicating a higher potency. Package labeling often warns consumers it is not for human consumption.

The drug is smoked to get high. Since it was first sold legally at convenience stores, gas stations and head shops, it may be thought of as a legal or “safe” high. Patients have entered the emergency rooms after using the drug with elevated heart rates and blood pressure, drowsiness, agitation, hallucinations, seizures, tremors (shaking), vomiting, paranoia and loss of physical control. There has been one death in Michigan. The long-term effect is not known.

In 2011, 11 percent of high school seniors in the United States reported using synthetic marijuana in the past year. There were 6,995 exposures to this drug nationwide in 2011. In 2010, there were 17 cases in Michigan, 224 in 2011, and, at the end of March 2012, there are already 126 cases reported.

In 2010, seven artificial marijuana chemicals were made illegal in Michigan with penalties similar to marijuana possession. In 2011, the DEA added five more synthetic cannabinoids into the Schedule I drugs of the controlled Substance Act, with Michigan adding these and its side chain homologues.

In the line of duty

Trooper Rodger Adams, 26, enlisted in the MSP on June 23, 1968, and was assigned to the Clinton Post. On May 14, 1971, about 1 a.m., he and his partner, Trooper John Kopacz, were dispatched to a traffic crash. As they headed east on U.S.-12 and rounded a curve near Tipton Road, a westbound car came around the curve and skidded into the path of the oncoming patrol car. Adams tried to swerve to the right at the last minute but the oncoming car crashed into the patrol car almost head-on. The impact drove the steering column, front seat, and Adams into the back seat. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Kopacz was seriously injured and, despite lingering back and elbow problems, served a full career with the MSP, retiring as an inspector.

Adams, a U.S. Army veteran, is buried in Flint and was the 25th trooper to die in the line of duty.

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