Lentz applauds House passage of bill to ban synthetic marijuana in Pa.
Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s safe; smoking K2 causes rapid heart rates, hallucinations, seizures, paranoia and sometimes death
HARRISBURG, Sept. 29 – State Rep. Bryan R. Lentz, D-Delaware, said Pennsylvania is one step closer to banning a drug known as “K2”, a dangerous blend of herbs treated with synthetic marijuana.
The House passed legislation (H.B. 176) today that would prohibit the substance by an overwhelming vote of 198-1.
It is currently sold openly on the Internet and in head shops as a spice or incense under names such as “Spice,” “Demon,” and “Genie.” No federal or Pennsylvania law currently exists prohibiting K2.
Lentz worked with the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Jennifer Mann, D-Lehigh, throughout the summer to raise awareness about the bill and to bring it up for a vote in the House.
“K2 is way too readily available to kids, parents don’t know enough about it and that together is a deadly combination,” Lentz said. “This drug is not safe, it’s not natural, and it shouldn’t be legal. Unfortunately, because it is legal, people assume it’s a safe alternative to smoking marijuana. Nothing could be further from the truth – people have died from smoking this drug.”
K2 is known to cause rapid heart rates, very high blood pressure, hallucinations, seizures, vomiting and paranoia. It attacks the cardiovascular and central nervous system and is responsible for an increasing number of emergency room visits.
Lentz said banning K2 would help increase awareness about the side effects caused by the drug and allow police officers to go after sellers and users.
“People who use and sell drugs will always be looking for new drugs and ways to get around the law,” Lentz said. “We have a responsibility in the legislature to keep the law updated to empower our law enforcement so dangerous trends like this don’t get out of control.”
The American Association of Poison Control Centers issued a warning in March on the effects of synthetic marijuana. It reports that since the beginning of 2010, there have been 567 K2-related calls, up from 13 in 2009.
The substance is banned in nine states: Tennessee, Kansas, Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Alabama, Kentucky and Louisiana. Similar prohibitions are pending in at least five other states, including Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.
House Bill 176 now goes to the Senate for consideration.