(KCPW) Following in the footsteps of several Utah municipalities and health departments, the legislature is cracking down on a pot-like product sold in smoke-shops. A new bill classifies spice, a synthetic-cannabis incense that’s smoked or inhaled to get a high, as a controlled substance. It would make it illegal to possess, sell or use.
“It’s going to have a chilling effect on these entrepreneurs who are trying to market these newer chemical versions. So I think this is a legitimate effort to control spice and its relatives. But it remains to be seen if this is just like squeezing a balloon and it comes out as some other recreational drug,” says Dr. David Sundwall, Utah Department of Health Executive Director and Chairman of the Controlled Substances Advisory committee.
Sundwall told lawmakers that spice poses a risk to public health and safety, and should be regulated. But the committee isn’t recommending that it be scheduled in one of the state’s five categories of drugs.
Paul Boyden, Statewide Association of Prosecutors executive director, said there isn’t enough research to determine how to classify the drug. He said new variations are being created faster than researchers can publish their impacts on the human brain.
“We didn’t want to hurry and put them in the Schedule 1, which is one that’s very hard to do research with, because this is a very promising area for medical research,” Boyden says. “For instance, if you could take some of these and come up with better ways to treat nausea during chemotherapy or something like that, then that’s a very, very worthwhile thing to do.”
A legislative committee voted unanimously to support the bill. It will be debated again during the next general session, which begins in January.