Synthetic marijuana made illegal

Published 5:33 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Off the shelves: Clanton Police seized about 700 grams of synthetic marijuana Tuesday.

Possession of synthetic marijuana will soon carry a stiffer penalty than being caught with the real thing.

Addressing a problem that has emerged relatively recently, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed an executive order on Oct. 14 to add synthetic marijuana to the state’s list of controlled substances.

Synthetic marijuana had been bought and sold regularly at fuel stations and tobacco shops as incense or potpourri under brand names such as “Spice” and “K2” and referred to as “legal weed.”

Local government agency wasted no time enforcing the modified law. The office of District Attorney Randall Houston distributed a memorandum to every law enforcement agency in the 19th Judicial Circuit, and then police officers were to carry the information to each fuel station in the three-county area.

“So many kids were getting injured and overdosing on this stuff,” Deputy DA C.J. Robinson said.

The order instructed police to seize any synthetic marijuana they came across until Oct. 24, at which point possession of any amount of the substance would constitute a felony.

Clanton Police seized about 700 grams of synthetic marijuana—about 140 packages with a combined retail value of about $2,800—Tuesday from local stores.

“We delivered notification last week and made follow-up visits [Tuesday] and found some stores had yet to remove the product,” CPD Chief Brian Stilwell said in a release. “That which was still visible was taken by my detectives.”

Beginning Oct. 24, any clerk, manager or owner of a store found selling the product could be charged with a Class B felony.

Possession of any amount of synthetic marijuana will also become a felony, more severe than simple possession of marijuana, which is a misdemeanor.