Posted: Sep 14, 2011 9:56 PM by Maddie Garrett
Known as "legal herb," "spice" or "herbal incense," synthetic marijuana has been around for a few years now. But getting it off the streets hasn't been easy for law enforcement.
"They're called synthetic cannabinoids, they're not actually cannabinoids," said Acadiana Crime Lab Director Kevin Ardoin.
Ardoin sees packets of synthetic marijuana all the time, and says there's nothing home grown about this stuff. It's a combination of chemicals sprayed onto a potpourri-like substance, and sold at some convenience stores as a legal way to get high.
"You're mixing various chemicals to make that cannabis, that high, you're really getting very dangerous when you're dealing with that," explained Crowley Police Chief K.P. Gibson.
New laws were passed in July 2011, classifying many ingredients in synthetic marijuana as Schedule 1 Narcotics. Still, manufacturers have found loop holes in the system.
"The law comes in and says that ingredients A, B, C, D and E are illegal to make this ingredient. You change an ingredient in there and it becomes legal," said Gibson.
So before someone can get arrested for possesion of this substance, many times it has to be shipped off for testing. The synthetic cannabis is broken down at the Crime Lab and the chemicals separated out to determine if the ingredients are banned.
If the tests come back positive, an arrest warrant is then issued.
But as more versions of the synthetic drugs come in, Ardoin said he worries what these chemicals are doing to people who ingest them.
"It actually has effects that are more potent than marijuana, it's actually very dangerous, more dangerous than marijuana," said Ardoin.
He hopes soon all versions will be made illegal.