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Iowa House bill seeks to ban more synthetic marijuana

BY ELISE DILGER | FEBRUARY 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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Further legislation about synthetic marijuana has Iowa lawmakers and local storeowners unsure whether the drug will ever be stamped out.

According to the Current Psychiatry journal, synthetic cannibinoids are sometimes marketed as "herbal incense" and labeled against human consumption. Despite this, the article said, consumers often smoke the herb to produce cannabis-like effects of sedation, relaxation and euphoria.

A ban on certain forms of the incense passed last year, though lawmakers then and now are wary of manufacturers altering small parts of the synthetic compounds to fall outside a new law's reach.

"The chemists will adapt to the new law," said Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville.

He was unsure about the new bill's possible success.

"There are only two weeks left for this bill to come from the House to the Senate," he said. "So I am not sure whether or not it will pass."

The Current Psychiatry study found a compound called JWH-18 in a variety of synthetic cannibinoids.

"The products initially had the added appeal of being legal and undetectable in screening," the article said. "The growing popularity of herbal-incense products has prompted health concerns based on reports of emergency… effects, including tachycardia, agitation, excess sedation, and loss of consciousness."

Kelly Stucker, who owns local glassware shop the Konnexion, 106 S. Linn St., said her store has not sold herbal incense because of its tenuous legal status and lack of regulation. She, too, was skeptical about the bill's effect.

"It doesn't matter what bill passes or when," she said. "The chemists interested in making stacks of money will continue to tweak the compounds in any way they can. By the time any bill has passed, a new product has been created and distributed long beforehand. It's a losing battle that we can't cover by blanket laws."

The Convenience Store, an unrelated shop on the same floor as the Konnexion, does sell products labeled herbal incense not for human consumption. Employees from the Convenience Store declined to comment on whether the bill would affect their sales.

The In-Zone, 116 E. Washington St., and the Den, 123 E. Washington St., do not sell synthetic marijuana products, but they do sell unrelated products labeled herbal incense. Employees from those stores also declined to comment.

Websites for two herbal-incense companies selling product in Iowa last year, SYN and K3, are currently unavailable or lacking product.

Current herbal-incense manufacturers still sold in Iowa include Afterlife, Cloud 10, Freedom, Head Trip, Tsunami Rush, and Voodoo Doll, according to Herbal Incense Wholesaler.


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