“Spice” is the latest legal way to get high for many students and young adults. It’s created using chemicals on a legal plant and then smoked for its intoxicating effects, and is considered something akin to a “synthetic marijuana”.
According the Virginia State Crime Commission, the substance is banned in at least three other states and Virginia may be next. There is no word on whether the name itself is derived from the novel Dune.
The problem with “spice” is in the health risks, according to supporters of criminalizing the substance. The American Association of Poison Control Centers states that in this year alone, they have received about 1,800 calls about the substance—70 of those coming from Virginia.
Nausea and seizures are among the potential side effects, though it doesn’t seem that anyone has had a fatal reaction. While I’m not suggesting we wait for someone to die before it’s criminalized, I am simply pointing out that there are far more dangerous legal substances currently on the market with no bans in place.
The substance is marketed as incense and usually involves spraying a number of chemicals on dried leaves like catnip. Makers of K2 and other forms of spice state it is not meant to be smoked and they cannot control what their consumers choose to do with it.
The high this substance provides is said to be similar to a marijuana high and this is why it’s commonly called a “synthetic marijuana”. It can be purchased at tobacco shops and other unique gift stores and “head shops”.
State legislators in Virginia are discussing banning the substance and there’s a good chance it will happen. Six bills have been introduced which would make spice illegal, criminalizing the chemical ingredients responsible for the resulting high rather than criminalizing the brand name or finished product.
There’s no indication how the substance would be classified or what the penalties would be for being found in possession of such a substance. If banned, the new possession laws would likely take effect later in 2011.
Critics are more concerned with adding another substance to the list of drugs already outlawed. While smoking spice might not be a smart idea, criminalizing it shouldn’t be the first line of defense. In a system that is losing the “War on Drugs” and incarcerating more people each day for nonviolent crimes, adding to the counterproductive laws doesn’t seem like a smart solution.
There’s a good chance spice will be banned here and throughout the country as the “tough on crime” approach still has the country in a headlock. We’ll just have to wait and see how the situation plays out in the legislature this upcoming session.
If you are charged with any sort of possession or distributing drug charge in Virginia, I can help. Contact our offices today for a free consultation on your case.