We applaud Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature for moving quickly to outlaw what some law enforcement officials are calling the latest menace coming to a street near you: synthetic marijuana.
Flanked by supporters, the governor on Tuesday signed several bills into law making illegal substances retailed under the name Spice, K2 and Black Mamba, to name a few. The new law includes the now infamous bath salts concoctions that were linked to at least one death locally and several nationally.
Synthetic marijuana is a mixture of dried herbs and other vegetable matter that has been sprayed with a witch's brew of chemicals. People ingesting it have been documented as engaging in violent behavior. Additionally, public health experts say synthetic marijuana has been linked to certain health problems.
The new laws will empower the authorities to take enforcement action when the substances appear. Additionally, local health boards will be able to declare health emergencies to help stem sale and distribution.
According to The Associated Press and reported by The Mining Journal Wednesday, under Michigan's new laws, anyone caught manufacturing, distributing or selling the substances can be charged with a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. For possession, the maximum sentence is two years. Anyone convicted of using synthetic marijuana could be hit with a misdemeanor that carries a possible one-year jail sentence.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that at least 40 states now have laws on the books banning synthetic marijuana. That, too, is good news.
Let's hope local law enforcement here and elsewhere are able to make full use of these new laws and snuff out the problem early, before synthetic marijuana becomes an even bigger danger.