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Charbonneau’s Proposal Banning Synthetic Pot to be Considered by Corrections Panel

January 10, 2011

01/11/11  A proposal authored by State Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) banning marijuana-like substances in Indiana and creating stiff penalties for using and selling the products will be considered by a Senate committee on Tuesday. 

Senate Bill 57 will be heard by the Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters at 9 a.m. in Room 130 of the Statehouse. 

“To curb the use of synthetic cannabinoids, local ordinances are being supported in many counties and cities throughout the state,” Charbonneau said. “I see this as a sign that these products are a danger to our communities. But local bans are somewhat limited fixes when it comes to penalties and jurisdiction of law enforcement. These drugs present problems statewide and require statewide action.” 

Synthetic cannabinoids are blends of herbs and chemicals. When smoked and inhaled, they mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana. These man-made mood-altering products are marketed as incense, aromatic potpourri or fertilizer and sold under product names like “Spice,” “Mr. Smiley” and “Voodoo Magic.” 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, intoxication from THC can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and trouble with learning and memory functions. 

If passed into law, Charbonneau said SB 57 would add various chemical compounds used in synthetic cannabinoids to the state’s controlled substances list, creating the same penalties for producing, distributing, selling or using the products as marijuana. 

Indiana has the largest number of reported cases involving marijuana-like substances in the U.S., according to Drug-Free Marion County. As of June 30, there were 41 cases demonstrating the adverse effects of synthetic cannabinoids – hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, confusion and vomiting, among other effects – on youths in Indiana age 6 to 19. 

More than ten countries and at least ten states have taken legal action to ban or control ‘Spice’ and related products, and the Drug Enforcement Administration classified the chemicals used in synthetic cannabinoids as “drugs and chemicals of concern.”

Sen. Charbonneau represents Senate District 5, which includes Starke County and portions of Porter, LaPorte, Marshall, Jasper, Pulaski and St. Joseph counties.