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Senate takes up bill that would ban K2

Monday, February 15, 2010 | 8:49 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Columbia's state senator said in a hearing Monday that K2 has rapidly grown in popularity in mid-Missouri and has "a more potent effect than marijuana."

A bill, introduced by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a first-term Republican, would ban synthetic cannabinoids, more commonly known as "K2," among drugs like certain anesthetics.

K2 is a substance that, when smoked, is supposed to affect the user in a way similar to marijuana. He said it was troubling that a substance that can vary widely in effect and impairment has no regulation.

His Senate bill would classify cannabinoids as a Schedule I controlled substance, which would put it in the same category as marijuana, heroin, Ecstasy and other drugs that have been classified by the federal government as having "no currently accepted medical use."

Schaefer told the Senate Judiciary Committee that, in the past month or two, hospitals in mid-Missouri have reported multiple instances of adolescents entering emergency rooms complaining of negative effects after using K2.

"We don't need kids who are in their teens getting hurt by something that is just as bad as marijuana," Schaefer said. "We have people smoking this stuff and getting stoned and driving around. It can cause real problems."

He added that people might smoke it the way they do cigarettes, which would create the danger of people driving while high.

John Coffman, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, urged the committee to exercise caution in banning K2. He said the ACLU views marijuana as misclassified to begin with and added there hadn't been any scientific proof as to the potency of the K2 version.

"Let's take this issue carefully," he said. "I'm not sure we have any evidence as to exactly what is in this K2 substance and whether it is impairing enough to be dangerous."

Coffman added that driving while impaired is already a misdemeanor, and this bill would not change that.

"I'm pretty sure that I can already get a DWI if I drink a lot of cough syrup," he said.

Representatives from the state Department of Health and Human Services were ready to testify for informational purposes, but after being told they needed to take a stance either for or against the bill, they declined to speak.

Schaefer said he had called Gov. Jay Nixon's office seeking support for the bill and the governor's office had added additional substances to the bill, but the department had not been given the go-ahead to testify in favor. Schaefer said he was confused as to why the governor had not yet allowed his health department to speak in favor of the bill.

Nixon spokesman Jack Cardetti declined to comment when he was reached Monday night.

A similar bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart. Schaefer said there are some differences between the two that need to be reconciled, but he thought it was safe to say that K2 is on its way out in Missouri almost as quickly as it arrived.

"I think this bill is pretty non-controversial," Schaefer said. "It's still pretty new to our area, but those that know about this know that it's a very serious problem."


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Comments

Allison Heisdorffer February 16, 2010 | 12:09 p.m.

My name is Allison Heisdorffer and I'm a reporter at the Columbia Missourian. I talked to Columbia Police Public Information Officer Jessie Haden on February 4, and she said K2 was a "non-issue" in Columbia. The police department hadn't received any reports about the legal substance causing problems in the city. We're looking into any rising concern, so check back soon for more information.

(Report Comment)
Bob Welsh March 1, 2010 | 3:42 p.m.

The reason Missouri should move to ban substances like these is that Missouri's current "drug law" found in the 195 statutes does not clearly define what an analog chemical is. It is very difficult to get Missouri judges to understand the concept of analogs (not sure why). Basically an analog is a "close chemical cousin" which is constructed in a very similar manner and/or produces similar effects as another drug already banned. If K-2 wasn't capable of producing a marijuana (cannabis) like effect (1) why is it selling like hotcakes in many parts of the world, nation, State and (2) why are there so many people bragging that it is a "legal high" substitute for cannabis? As for the DWI reference in the above article, yes, you can get arrested for driving under the influence of anything that causes psycho-physical impairment of driving abilities. Missouri's State DWI law reads (and I quote): "A person commits the crime of driving while intoxicated if he operates a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated or drugged condition." As for the comment regarding getting a DWI with cough syrup; sure its possible but you'd have to drink far more than the recommended dosage to do that OR mix it with other drugs, medications or alcohol. Finally, regarding the comment: K-2 being a non-issue in Columbia, perhaps they should dig a little deeper. Difficult to believe that K-2 problems are cropping up all over the State but blissful Columbia is somehow immune. Missouri lawmakers were wise enough to ban salvia divinorum and they should ban K-2 as well.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire March 29, 2011 | 12:13 p.m.

"We don't need kids who are in their teens getting hurt by something that is just as bad as marijuana," Schaefer said. "We have people smoking this stuff and getting stoned and driving around. It can cause real problems."

Stupid statement of the month for the senator. Always exceeding my expectations. Particularly the first sentence.

Perhaps he should legislate against alcohol then.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire March 29, 2011 | 12:18 p.m.

I would start cutting the amount of money being spent in IRAQ!!!

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire March 29, 2011 | 12:27 p.m.

Someone please explain to me how I can be on an article written yesterday about which buffoons should be put on the ticket to lose the next election and then make a comment only to find it posted here.

Seriously.

I was on the other article when I posted the comment and I haven't been smoking anything that is just as bad as marijuana for at least a couple hours.

The comment was in reply to a "Frank Christian" admitting that he wouldn't admit where he thought that your government should cut spending. The comment should in no way constitute a surprise.

(Report Comment)
Josie Jones September 22, 2011 | 12:33 p.m.

If it weren't for the prohibition of marijuana, folks would not buy k2 incense alternatives. Why would they? If people had legal access to the real deal they would not be hunting down k2 herb and the like. Just as the government has wasted endless resources chasing down marijuana, now they are going to do the same with this incense stuff. It is ridiculous and wasteful in more ways than one. How long have these products been banned, and there are still places advertising legal everywhere products like those found at http://www.buyherbalincense.com .

(Report Comment)

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