Just like the real thing, synthetic marijuana is now illegal.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill at a news conference inside a Farmington Boys and Girls Club banning the possession and sale of synthetic marijuana. New Mexico is the 16th state to ban synthetic marijuana.
But some feel the law won’t curb drug use.
“It doesn’t really matter they banned fake marijuana,” student Kyle Johnson said. “People who want to get high can still find real marijuana, or any other drug, if they really want it. I guess this just stops people on probation from smoking.”
Online and local smoke shop retailers sold synthetic marijuana under brand names such as K2 Spice, King Kong, Route 69, Texas Tea and Mystic Monkey Potpourri.
Now local smoke shops have three months to get rid of stock, but could be arrested if they are caught selling synthetic marijuana brands.
“It puts us in a bind,” said Brian Anderson, a manager at a local smoke shop. “We can’t sell it to any customers, and we can’t sell it to a shop in another state where it is legal. We might have to throw it away.”
In January, Farmington became the first New Mexico city to ban products like K2 Spice. Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort (R-Sandia Park) sponsored the legislation that Martinez signed in front of a dozen elected officials from the Four Corners area.
“These drugs are no less harmful just because they are known by catchy names and are chemically different than the substances they are supposed to replicate,” Martinez said. “They can pack a powerful punch and can hold devastating consequences for anyone who uses them.”
Last month, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration put products like K2 Spice on its illegal drug list.
“Once we heard the feds considered it illegal, we started taking it off our shelves,” Anderson said. “If people wanted it, they had to ask.”
Now, Congress is taking action to form a federal ban after 150 midshipmen were kicked out of the Naval Academy because they alleged used synthetic marijuana. The U.S. Senate will conduct a hearing investigating synthetic marijuana and other chemically formed drugs, such as “bath salt,” a legally sold product intended to mimic the effects of cocaine.
A bill sponsored by Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) would create a federal ban of the products. Products like K2 Spice typically consist of plant material coated with chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Despite the law, student Dave Ramirez said drug use in the state will remain a problem.
“Some crack head broke into my house two months ago,” he said. “I caught the guy and had him arrested. Apparently, he had a history of mental health and drug abuse, and he had been in jail more than eight times. I think guys like that need rehabilitation and not just jail. I know he’ll be out soon.”
Still, Martinez said the legislation will make New Mexico safer.
“I have made it a top priority to protect and promote communities in which our children can feel safe and New Mexico’s families can thrive,” Martinez said. “New Mexico now joins the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and a number of other states in recognizing that ‘synthetic’ does not mean ‘harmless.’”