Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Fake pot will be illegal throughout Alaska starting this summer under a bill passed by the state legislature on Saturday.
Sold in smoke shops under names like K2 and Spice, synthetic cannabis is a blend of dried vegetable matter and herbs coated with chemicals, which when smoked produces a marijuana-like high.
House Bill 7 banning the stuff was sponsored by Juneau Representative Cathy Munoz. Anchorage Senator Kevin Meyer sponsored companion legislation in the Senate. Since Munoz’s bill moved first, Meyer said it was his “honor” to carry it in the Senate.
“Some people think Spice, K2 is safe alternative to marijuana, but they are very much wrong. It’s considered much more potent than marijuana. In fact, people who have used this substance have had elevated heart rates, blood pressure up, extreme anxiety, hallucinations, vomiting, and even death sometimes. It’s a very dangerous substance,” Meyer said.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently barred the sale of five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana while the federal agency studies whether to outlaw it nationwide. Anchorage and Juneau have already passed laws banning it. But it remains widely available in other parts of the state. Anchorage Senator Hollis French said the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony that the substance’s popularity may be due to it being undetectable by drug tests.
“We heard from a businessman on the Kenai Peninsula who sells this product in his shop, and said that he’s selling close to $40,000 per month of this material. He said it was mostly to guys pulling up in trucks with gun racks. He took them to be North Slope workers, who were looking to avoid the drug testing provisions that they impose there,” French said.
HB 7 classifies synthetic pot as a 3A controlled substance in Alaska. Drugs currently classified as 3A include hashish and narcotics like opium.
The bill now heads to Governor Parnell for his signature.
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