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Herring bill to ban synthetic marijuana adopted by legislature

Richmond - State senator Mark Herring’s (D-eastern Loudoun) legislation to criminalize the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to by such street names as “Spice” and “K2”, passed the General Assembly on Feb. 26 unanimously.

Because the bill contains a so-called “Emergency Clause,” it can become law immediately if and when signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).

“I am pleased that Virginia will now join the growing number of states that have taken action to protect our citizens, particularly our young people, from these dangerous designer drugs,” Herring stated.  “I am particularly grateful to all of the members of the General Assembly, members of both parties in both houses, who worked diligently with me on this important public safety issue.”

“The bill has significantly harsher penalties for the sale and distribution of these harmful compounds,” Herring continued.  “Those who manufacture and sell these products know full well the purpose for which they will be used and should bear significant responsibility for the harm they are causing.”

The substance has drawn the attention of law enforcement and parents in the past year as its use has grown exponentially, according to federal statistics, causing severe health reactions - including attempted suicides, extremely elevated heart rate/blood pressure, comas, seizures, and anxiety attacks.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported over 1,500 overdoses nationally resulting from the use of synthetic marijuana in just the first nine months of last year, and the problem has grown significantly worse, particularly in Virginia, since then.

Herring started his effort to ban the substance last fall, before the General Assembly met for its 2011 session.

“Virginia will continue to face challenges in dealing with the emerging trend toward the use of designer drugs, and it is my hope that moving forward the General Assembly will take a comprehensive look at how best to address this issue,” Herring added.

The General Assembly is in the last hours of its 2011 session and is expected to adjourn Feb. 27 or 28. McDonnell will then review all bills adopted by the legislature and decide which ones to sign into law and which ones he will veto.


Does anyone have an estimate of how many crimes are committed by drug addicts trying to get money to support their habit? If we had an addictive drug control program instead of a prohibition program, perhaps doctors could determine the dose needed to satisfy cravings, and supply that at a reduced cost.  Marijuana, since it has no chemical addiction property, and its abuse leads to torpor rather than violence, could be sold and taxed similar to tobacco taxes.  Our budget problems would be helped by ending the war on drugs and getting tax income from users.


I hear your concerns loud and clear. I guess I just don’t think we can do any worse than we are now. Kids already have more access to hard drugs than my generation did. Zero tolerance/ mandatory sentencing is an absolute failure both in the schools and in our judicial system. Our prisons are overflowing with people convicted of drug crimes and we’re spending too many resources which could be devoted to more heinous criminal activity.

Alcohol prohibition gave us organized crime, whereas drug prohibition has given us drug cartels so powerful they threaten to overthrow entire countries. If Mexico goes off the rails how much is it going to cost US taxpayers to contain the mess?

It seems like our current policies cause more problems than they fix. Take the widespread use of drug testing for some fairly routine jobs as an example. We know that people have been altering their state of mind for thousands of years and Americans are no exception- drug use has been widespread and well documented since we declared independence.

If you fail a drug test you could use your job. Pot, which is probably the least harmful substance people take to get high can show up in a drug test for 30 days whereas cocaine or meth is out of a persons system in 3 days. LSD doesn’t show up at all. Does the widespread use of testing encourage people who would be smoking dope on the weekends to try soemthing else that doesn’t test? Would people be abusing prescription drugs like oxycontin if other opiates were available to drug abusers?


I saw that Naval Academy headline, but did not read the article.  I will go back and check it out.

There was also an incredibly sad story in the Post a couple of weeks ago about a high school youth in Fairfax who killed himself not long after being suspended and then expelled for having bought some tiny amount of Spice-like substance at school.  He was a very good kid who was jerked away from his network of friends including his football team.  His mom has Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Very sad story.  Punishment was way too extreme.

I appreciate the discussion.  I do have the fear that if we open pandora’s box to more and more substances, the market will then produce more and more substances and the cost of regulating all this would be astronomical.  Youth will be the biggest victims in that model.


I agree completely. Alcohol is a terribly destructive drug which if you abuse over a long period of time will most likely kill you. The same isn’t true of pot according to most medical professionals.  I don’t know about Spice as it’s so new and the research isn’t there yet.

On a side note, todays paper had an article on Spice at the Navel Academy. Apparently it’s use is fairly widespread in the military because it doesn’t show up on drug tests.

If we make it illegal what will the soldiers start using instead?


I agree that there are other solutions and that the War on Drugs has major flaws.  We shouldn’t be jailing abusers/buyers to be sure.

I wouldn’t say, however, that we have safely managed alcohol.  Those crimes you site, many of them are fueled by alcohol.  Innocents die or are injured regularly because of alcohol related accidents and fights.  Yes, we are stuck with alcohol and tobacco including feeble attempts to regulate them. 

I honestly don’t believe there is any redeeming benefit in having manufacturers create more and more of these things.  They make money and kids get high for a minute. 

I guess another argument is that if we are pure free market capitalists, we ought to be able to make whatever and sell whatever and use whatever.  It is a free country as they say.

AS a retired police officer who worked for more than three decades.. that in the U.S. nearly four of 10 murders, six of 10 rapes and nine of 10 burglaries go unsolved, thanks in large part to our policies that force police to chase drugs.”


Like the man says- there’s a reason you don’t see gangs fighting turf wars over alcohol anymore. If we can safely manage the most dangerous drugs available (alcohol and tobacco) surely we can figure out a way to regulate the other substances.


@Common Sense:  Just use . . . common sense . . . ever heard of synonyms?

First Herring calls the stuff “dangerous designer drugs,” then calls it “harmful compounds.” Well, which is it?

Our penal system needs a major overhaul as it is and these petty drug laws aren’t helping matters. The authorities will never be able to keep up with K2 incense and the like as it is ever-changing. Places like, http://www.k2incense.org have K2 herb products that aren’t forbidden under any current bans. It is bonkers the money and effort they are putting into these bans when apparently people can still legally buy k2 smoke if they want to!

Sure, the prisons are full of people who started with pot and went on to harder stuff. But the WORLD is full of more people who tried pot, never tried coke or heroin or crack, moved on never had a problem. If everyone who smoke marijuana at some point of their lives became junkies, society would not exist because everyone would be dead from overdoses. More kids are probably huffing Pledge through a rag or licking toads than “smoking” this b.s. weed substitute.

But thanks for the feel-good legislation. Political theater at it’s finest.


As a former Sterling home owner who moved due the growing gang violence (shooting into 7 town houses looking for a rival, home invasion rapes, etc), I prefer the small chance of Police confusion over gangs and drug dealers any day.

The prisons are full of people who thought pot was no biggie until it became crack, then heroine. Stop avoiding reality with poison. Drugs kill everything and anything they touch. They take you high only to drop you hard and cold.

Anyone want to party in Northern Mexico? If you’re not one of the 2500 deaths from drug cartels every year, I hear you can get an affordable hotel.

.... so the taxpayer funded boondoggle we call the “War on Drugs” continues.

We have the highest incarcerated rate of our citizenry of any country in the world, which is blowing a hole in state budgets nationwide. SWAT teams dressed as storm troopers routinely kick down doors of private homes, threatening our neighbors with military grade weaponry in order to serve warrants for non-violent crimes, quite often at the wrong house (ask the Mayor of Brewyn Heights- http://voices.washingtonpost.com/crime-scene/ruben-castaneda/pr-georges-settles-lawsuit-in.html - and save me the BS that this is a rare occurrence. It happens almost every day.

Wrong address- “so sorry we beat your wife and shot your dogs but this is a sacrifice we all must make to keep you safe”

The Drug War is a monumental failure of domestic policy and I’m disappointed that Senator Herring and the General Assembly have decided to escalate it.

Thank you, Senator Herring, for leading the charge.

On behalf of the DBC and everyone who understands drugs lead to problems, thanks Charlie Sheen. You make it easy for us.

Oh, and sure pot is innocent. Just ask some of these peeps if you can wake them. I’m sure they all just went right for the hard stuff first…


Nothing from the Dick Black Clan in support of fake pot?

good people need to smoke the real herb not this fake stuff

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