The Texas Department of State Health Services waited until the day most marijuana users celebrate the drug to announce it is banning products that simulate cannabis. In a news release posted on its website, DSHS said it is banning substances found in products like K2 and Spice, effective this Friday, April 22.
DSHS 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 of K2 are Class A or B misdemeanors.
K2 or Spice, often 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 US Drug Enforcement Agency took similar action in early March by banning the five THC-like chemicals JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497 and cannabicyclohexanol. The DEA placed them into the same legal category as heroin and ecstasy.
These chemicals will be controlled for at least 12 months, with the possibility of a six month extension. They are designated as Schedule I substances, the most restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act.
The CentralScience blog has some helpful background on the synthetic drugs, including some history on when they were first created.
The compound most commonly found in these products is a chemical first synthesized by the well-known Clemson University organic chemist, Prof John W Huffman: the eponymous JWH-018. Another compound, found in Spice products sold in Germany, is an analog of CP-47,497, a cannabinoid developed by Pfizer over 20 years ago.