Michigan Joins The Synthetic Bandwagon

June 19 2012, Governor Rick Snyder signed four bills that would ban synthetic drugs. This would include Spice, K2, and Bath Salts. But what took so long for the powers-that-be in Michigan to finally decide that enough was enough? HuffPost Detroit states that, “after local protests and several tragedies linked to ‘synthetic marijuana,’ Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced he will sign into law a package that would ban K2, Spice and other synthetic drugs including "bath salts.” One said protest was held in the city of Zeeland where two moms organized a protest in front of a local business that was carrying the product. The tragedies surrounding the drugs included an incident in Miami, Fla. that made national news when bath salts, according to nbcsandiego.com, had “been linked to behavior behind multiple attacks that some have labeled ‘zombie apocalypse’.” Locally the incidents involved fatal overdoses and murder. According to HuffPost Detroit, “several tragedies, including a Bloomfield Township teen’s reported fatal overdose on synthetic marijuana and its alleged involvement in the case of Tucker Cipriano, who is charged with murdering his father.”

On the streets, police officers were left to battle an unregulated drug. Detective John Paul Damveld, drug investigator for the West Michigan Enforcement Team responded to Jabber Log in an email stating, “My opinion is that they have a larger reaction to these drugs, which usually causes hallucinations. One occasion led to a motor vehicle crash involving no injuries but both occupants believed they were severely hurt.”

While it was reported by mlive.com that a bill spearheaded by Lowell Republican Sen. Dave Hildenbrand was sent to the “state House for consideration,” a local outcry, as reported by HuffPost Detroit, “caused communities to enact their own bans and protest gas stations where the drugs were being sold.” With all this going on, one would ask why it took so long to pass a law banning synthetic drugs? In a recent interview with Jabber Log, Allegan County Sheriff’s Deputy Morgan Sullivan stated,

“Because these are synthetic drugs, lawmakers would make drug 1403-7 (a bath salt) illegal, so the manufacturers would simply change a molecule in 1403-8 maintaining the same effect but 1403-8 isn’t illegal. You know how long it takes to pass a law? Lawmakers couldn’t keep up.”

With a ban finally in place, mlive.com reported, “smoke shops, party stores, and gas stations in Michigan are clearing the products off their shelves.” In order to keep storeowners on the right side of the law, mlive.com reported, “The Michigan State Police has launched the "K2 is not OK" campaign to warn store owners that selling spice or bath salts will be illegal July 1. Distribution of the drugs carries a 7-year felony penalty under the new law.” How banning synthetic drugs will impact local communities is unknown but the main factor, according to Dep. Sullivan, is the risk.

“If there is someone that wants to use it, you can bet there will be someone ready to profit from it. On the plus side, most of the danger from those listed drugs was their accessibility. The deterrent now is the fact that you have to be willing to take much more of a risk to make it, sell it, buy it, and use it.”