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DEA Enacts National Ban On Chemicals In Synthetic Pot

In January we reported that North Carolina legislators were considering a statewide ban on synthetic marijuana. The bill to make the drug illegal has passed in the state House but is still pending in the senate. However, that point is now moot as an emergency federal ban has just gone into effect.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) exercised an emergency power to ban 5 of the most common chemicals used to make synthetic pot. This ban now makes the sale of these five chemicals illegal in every state. It is unclear if possession or use has been criminalized under the DEA's ban.

The DEA has the power to place temporary bans on chemicals it considers dangerous under authority of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The ban will be in place for at least one year, which will likely be enough time to pass Federal legislation as well as legislation in all states. So far 18 states have banned the chemicals in synthetic marijuana.

The five chemicals have been categorized under Schedule 1 of the CSA, which is the most restrictive level. Chemicals in Schedule 1 are classified as having "a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use."

Some producers of synthetic marijuana may try to skirt the ban by using different chemicals to manufacture it. However, it will be difficult to reproduce without using the five banned chemicals, as they are present in most synthetic marijuana.

The issue of whether synthetic marijuana is legal or illegal has been made even more complicated by the DEA's ban. Additionally, the drug is largely untested and has been linked to hundreds of cases of illness. For these reasons, those who choose to use synthetic marijuana need to be aware that they might be gambling with their freedoms and their health.

Source: USA Today online, "DEA bans chemicals used to mimic marijuana," Donna Leinwand, 01 March 2011

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