TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa today announced a statewide ban on the manufacture, possession or sale of so-called “synthetic marijuana.”
New Jersey adopted a temporary federal ban last April on five variants of synthetic marijuana. Pending state legislation would ban three variants of the drug, and pending federal legislation would ban additional synthetic marijuana substances.
However, hundreds of variants have been sold nationwide and in New Jersey, according to the AG’s office.
Between 2010 and 2011 the number of synthetic marijuana exposures reported to poison control centers jumped by 139 percent nationwide, and by 711 percent in New Jersey alone, Chiesa’s office said.
Of the 146 cases reported in New Jersey during 2011, 92 percent resulted in symptoms requiring treatment in a healthcare facility.
Chiesa noted that the ban, issued Tuesday by the Division of Consumer Affairs, is more comprehensive than previous efforts. It includes language that covers all possible variants of the drug.
“This expansive action is necessary due to the unique nature of synthetic marijuana and other so-called designer drugs,” he said in a release.
“When one product is banned, the manufacturers and dealers find it all too easy to evade the law by creating new toxic products that have similar effects on the brain, but are not specifically identified as illegal.”
The ban affects 10 classes of synthetic compounds that imitate the effects of marijuana, and all known or unknown variants of the drug that would fall within each class.
The ban adds these chemicals to the list of Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substances in New Jersey, making them subject to the highest level of state control, like cocaine and heroin. Manufacture, distribution, sale, or possession of the chemicals is now a third-degree crime. Violators may be subject to a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for a three- to five-year term.