Spice is not nice

So, where are all the folks who want to legalize marijuana? How come they aren’t jumping to the defense of “spice,” the synthetic marijuana substitute that is sweeping the nation?

The Utah Legislature is preparing bills to outlaw the substance. Politicians in Ogden and Cache and Utah counties already have passed ordinances against it.
Utah isn’t alone. At least 10 states already have outlawed spice. Milwaukee officials are looking into it (read it here). Idaho’s State Board of Pharmacy this week banned the chemicals used to make it (read it here). The Pennsylvania House passed a bill this week that would outlaw it (read it here).
You don’t read of a lot of people in these stories clamoring for their right to party. But some have raised the question of whether spice should be outlawed or whether an age limit should be attached and legal restrictions put in place for its use. Otherwise, they say, the spice culture will move underground and be controlled by gangs and other underworld figures who will just raise the price and make enormous profits as they fight each other for turf.
It’s an old argument in the war to legalize drugs, and it’s a bunch of baloney. Perhaps the best story I found on the spice phenomenon was this one out of San Antonio. Police are finding young people who are clearly under the influence and who pose dangers to themselves and others, but they can do nothing. The kids and the cops both know it’s legal. The users freely admit they use it.
Dangerous substances should be illegal, and their users should be punished. Perhaps the punishment is simply mandatory and aggressive treatment and rehabilitation, rather than jail time. But this stuff shouldn’t be legal at any age.
Emergency rooms are reporting users with symptoms the Philadelphia Inquirer said include “seizures, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, and extreme anxiety and paranoia.”
I know of no other way for society to forcefully send a message that this stuff in not acceptable than to pass laws against it. Fortunately, a lot of states agree.

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About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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