Regional Crime Lab Provides Testing for Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic marijuana is sold as K2 and Spice.

The possession of or sale of synthetic marijuana substances became illegal in the State of Texas today. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute those offenders arrested for this crime after a laboratory analysis is done.

The state placed five synthetic cannabinoid substances in Schedule I of the Texas Schedules of Controlled Substances, making it illegal to manufacture, distribute, possess and sell the substances. Penalties for the manufacture, sale, or possession with intent to deliver synthetic marijuana like K2 or Spice are Class A misdemeanors. Possession of the banned substances is a Class B misdemeanor.

Law enforcement in Montgomery County will be working closely with the Sam Houston State University Regional Crime Lab in The Woodlands, which has developed tests to detect the illegal substances and has been routinely analyzing for the substances since January. The accredited, independent crime lab provides fee-based services for controlled substances and toxicology in criminal and civil cases, as well as death investigations.

Products like K2 or Spice, which are marketed as herbal incense, contain substances that produce psychoactive effects similar to those from smoking marijuana. These marijuana-like substances are readily available through smoke shops, gas stations, and the Internet.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration used its emergency scheduling authority to temporarily ban synthetic marijuana or similar “fake pot” products that mimic the effects of marijuana. The DEA action March 2 made it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess these products for at least one year. Schedule I, the most restrictive category on the Texas Schedules of Controlled Substances, is reserved for unsafe, highly abused substances with no accepted medical use. Five chemicals, JWH -018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol that are found in K2 were placed on the Schedule.

Since January 2010, approximately 600 calls were made to the Texas Poison Center Network related to K2 exposure. Reported adverse effects associated with use of these marijuana-like substances include chest pain, heart palpitations, agitation, drowsiness, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and confusion.

The District Attorney will prosecute all individuals violating this statute. Law enforcement in the county will be warning businesses that they may face criminal prosecution for selling or possessing these substances.

Member of The Texas State University System