It's getting harder to get high without breaking the law.
In the latest crackdown on over-the-head-shop-counter recreational drugs, New Jersey has permanently outlawed synthetic marijuana, reports reports the Star-Ledger.
The Garden State has expanded its temporary "emergency" ban on fake weed — aka K2 aka Spice aka Aroma aka Dream aka Blaze ... — into a permanent regulation.
The legal weed alternative is a casualty of N.J.'s greater initiative to outlaw so-called designer drugs — like bath salts, which were blamed in a 2011 murder of a Rutgers University student.
Bath salts also make people eat each other's faces off. So stoners can indirectly blame this buzz kill on the Zombie Apocalypse.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fake pot is a favorite among young drug users and is second only to real weed in popularity:
Once readily available at head shops, Spice is made of various kinds of vegetative matter soaked in chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana.
Synthetic marijuana seems pretty awesome because it's easy to obtain and doesn't show up on drug tests. But it's said to be more dangerous than the real stuff, especially for developing minds, because its active components bind more strongly to the brain's receptors.
And side effects can be severe, according to The American Association of Poison Control Centers:
• Severe agitation and anxiety
• Fast, racing heartbeat and higher blood pressure
• Nausea and vomiting
• Muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors
• Intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes
• Suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions
There's even a blog dedicated to fatalities blamed on fake weed:
Forbes reports that the U.S. has lagged in its efforts to combat fake pot:
Now, many countries in Europe ban the drug, but the U.S. has been slow to take action. It was only a month ago [in February 2012] that the first five synthetic cannabinoids became Schedule 1 controlled substances.
And NIDA explains that fake-weed makers have dodged those new regulations by replacing five outlawed chemicals with similar alternatives:
Because the chemicals used in Spice have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has designated the five active chemicals most frequently found in Spice as Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to sell, buy, or possess them. Manufacturers of Spice products attempt to evade these legal restrictions by substituting different chemicals in their mixtures, while the DEA continues to monitor the situation and evaluate the need for updating the list of banned cannabinoids.
New Jersey's state law gives blanket coverage, outlawing all synthetic chemicals that mirror the effects of marijuana. The temporary measure, now made permanent, specified "any of the hundreds of variants of dangerous, manmade chemicals designed to mimic the effects of marijuana":
And just to freak you out, here's the scary poster: