Maine lawmakers recommend synthetic pot ban, stiffer bath salts penalties

Posted May 10, 2013, at 7:57 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Lawmakers on the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee gave unanimous support Friday to proposals that would increase the penalties for use, sale and possession of synthetic marijuana and a chemical hallucinogen known as bath salts.

Variations of both substances are or have been legal in Maine, though the Legislature has supported several measures to ban them as new products come to the market.

LD 661, An Act to Prohibit Sale or Possession of Synthetic Cannabinoids, which was sponsored by Rep. Adam Goode, D-Bangor, would make so-called synthetic pot, which is being marketed as “spice” or K2, an illegal Schedule Z drug. Current law bars the use, sale or possession of specific chemical compounds that are synthetic cannabinoids; Goode’s bill would broaden the definition to include any compound “that has been demonstrated to have binding activity at one or more cannabinoid receptors.”

Spice and K2 are designed to mimic marijuana but, according to Goode, have been found to cause prolonged psychosis and exacerbate existing health disorders. He told the Bangor Daily News in February that he introduced the bill at the suggestion of a constituent, social worker Scott Dufour.

“I have seen the impact of these toxic, chemically altered drugs on some of Bangor’s most vulnerable citizens,” Dufour said. “The fact that these drugs are legally and, in my opinion, disingenuously being sold as incense and potpourri by local retailers was extremely upsetting.”

The committee also gave unanimous support to a bill that reclassifies the criminal use of bath salts, a hallucinogen that was legal until the Legislature outlawed it in 2011. LD 1439, which was proposed by the Criminal Law Advisory Commission, adjusts the penalties for possession of bath salts so they will be consistent with Schedule W drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

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