Politics & Government

State pharmacy board bans synthetic pot

The Washington state pharmacy board has voted to adopt a rule that would ban the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana.

The board’s emergency rule mirrors new Federal Drug Enforcement Administration rules banning five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana. The federal ban went into effect Dec. 24 and will last at least a year while officials consider a permanent ban. The state rule won’t go into effect until next month.

State officials say a state rule is a more effective tool for law enforcement than the federal ban.

Synthetic marijuana is sold in smoke shops as incense, but health officials say it is an intoxicant when burned and inhaled. It is sold under names such as K-2, Spice and Black Mamba.

In July, synthetic pot legally sold at an Olympia smoke shop put a Tumwater teen in a hospital emergency room.

The Providence St. Peter emergency room doctor who treated the 17-year-old boy said he was delirious and experiencing muscle contractions. The teen also had a heart rate of 170 beats per minute and low blood pressure, Dr. Joe Pellicer said.

“He could have died, ” Pellicer said.

A story in The Olympian on Aug. 1 detailed the lack of controls over synthetic pot.

“There’ve been no controlled clinical trials to tell us how dangerous they are in humans, ” Steve Childers, a pharmacology professor at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, said then of the compounds. “We don’t know enough about the human pharmacological effects of these substances. Anybody with any brains wouldn’t use them.”

The Associated Press and staff writer Jeremy Pawloski contributed to this report.