The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday December 2nd

Imitation may be banned in NC

House, Senate to vote Thursday

Imitation marijuana, which became popular on college campuses last year, could soon be banned in the state.

The bill banning synthetic marijuana was proposed in both the N.C. House and the Senate and is expected to be voted on Thursday.

Imitation marijuana, widely known as K-2 or spice, is a mixture of several plants and herbs sprayed with a chemical that imitates tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, said he expects the bill to pass.

Legislators were prompted to ban the substance because law enforcement agencies and media outlets have warned the public about the dangers of synthetic marijuana, Dixon said.

The bill states that anyone caught possessing, selling, transporting or delivering more than 35 grams of K-2 or similar drugs will be charged with a felony and could face between 70 to 84 months in jail. Violators will also have to pay a fine of $50,000.

If the bill is passed, the ban would go into effect April 1.

Nine states have passed laws against the substance and 21 other states have similar bills proposed.

Sen. Don Vaughan, D-Guilford, sponsored a bill that is similar to the one proposed by both the House and the Senate, but his bill specifically lists certain chemicals that when combined should be banned.

Ryan Butler, the legislative director for Vaughan, said the high that results from using K-2 is very similar to other illegal substances.

“There are reports that state that the drug contains chemicals that are five times more powerful than marijuana,” Butler said.

The manager of Hazmat, a tobacco store on Franklin Street, said he is unaware of the proposed ban on K-2 and still continues to sell the popular substance in his store.

“We’ll just make new products,” he said. “Whenever something gets banned we just make new products without using banned substances.”

Tim Johnson, a sophomore at N.C. State University, said he’s tried spice before and the side-effects were strong.

“I felt like I had a heart attack,” he said.

Contact the State & National Editor at state@dailytarheel.com.

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