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2011-04-28

DEA,Texas catch up to Bandera

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

City of Bandera elected officials and administrators got the drop on state officials when they banned the sale of artificial cannabinoids within the municipality in November 2010.
Despite inaction by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), city council unanimously approved banning the sale of products known as K2 and Spice, among other monikers. At that time, Councilman John Hegemier asked, "Why should we be ahead of the DEA?"
Speaking in favor of the prohibition, Police Chief Jim Eigner Eigner replied, "Because the DEA is dealing with heroin and massive amounts of marijuana coming in from Mexico, this is way low on their priority list."
He continued, "I want us to be proactive and control and slow down the availability of the artificial drug in the city. There are too many things kids can get high on things that we can't control. This is a good thing for the city to be on top of."
It appears the United States Drug Enforcement Agency has finally caught up with Bandera administrators and elected officials.
Effective, Friday, April 22, administrators and medical personnel with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) outlawed marijuana-like substances commonly found in K2, Spice and other synthetic marijuana products.
According to a press release issued Wednesday, April 20, DSHS has 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 experienced while smoking marijuana. These marijuana-like substances are readily available through smoke shops, gas stations and the Internet.
The DEA used its emergency scheduling authority to temporarily ban synthetic marijuana or similar "fake pot" products that mimic the effects of marijuana. DEA action on March 2 made it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess these products for at least one year.
Following the DEA's action, state law requires DSHS personnel to place the substances on the Texas Schedules of Controlled Substances.
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 found in K2, were placed on the schedule.
Penalties for the manufacture, sale or possession of K2 are outlined in Section 481.119 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act. The penalties remain in effect unless the Texas Legislature moves the substances to a different penalty group.
Those found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor are subject to a fine not to exceed $4,000 and-or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year. Persons found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor are subject to a fine not to exceed $2,000 and-or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days.
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.
According to the medical reports, unregulated synthetic cannabinoids can produce a potent and intoxicating effect estimated to range from three to 100 times greater than that produced by THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
"Young people don't realize how serious this is," Eigner said during the earlier council meeting. "I consider this to be a gateway to more serious drug abuse."