New Jersey has placed a permanent ban on synthetic marijuana. The announcement was made today by Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa.
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs placed a temporary ban on the manmade drug, also known as “K2,” back in February. The permanent ban was enacted on November 19 after a public hearing, public comment period and publication in the current edition of the New Jersey register. New Jersey is now only the 4th state to ban the drug. With the ban, the manufacture, distribution, sale and possession of all the possible variants of synthetic marijuana is now a third-degree crime. Violators may be fined up to $25,000 and face prison terms of three to five years.
“These synthetic poisons, once offered as a so-called ‘legal high’ by shady retailers, are now permanently off the market in New Jersey – and the numbers indicate our ongoing ban has led to a decline in their reported use,” Attorney General Chiesa said. “These drugs have grown in popularity nationwide, despite their alarming and catastrophic side effects. Today they are permanently on record as being just as illegal as cocaine or heroin.”
“New Jersey’s law enforcement agencies now have the tools they need to shut down the sellers of these toxic drugs, and keep them away from anyone misguided enough to use them,” Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “And the public is now fully aware that, despite colorful labels and catchy brand names, K2 and Spice are associated with dangerous side effects including seizures, hallucinations, panic attacks, and suicide.”
The NJ Office of the Attorney General stated the following in a press release:
The need to keep these drugs illegal is borne out by alarming facts:
- Synthetic marijuana has been linked to dangerous side effects including violent seizures, dangerously elevated heart rates, anxiety attacks, and hallucinations, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Published reports indicate users have committed suicide or suffered fatal injuries after suffering extreme panic attacks caused by synthetic marijuana use. Reports published in peer-reviewed journals associate synthetic marijuana use with psychosis in some patients.
- Despite these dangers, synthetic marijuana has grown in popularity. The 2011 Monitoring the Future Study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that synthetic marijuana is the third-most commonly abused drug by high school seniors, after marijuana and abused prescription drugs.