Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Synthetic marijuana penalties gets OK

Published (1/21/2011)
By Mike Cook
Share on: 

Lt. Haans Vitek, with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit, testifies before the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee Jan. 20 in support of a bill that would criminalize the sale or possession of synthetic marijuana. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)For about nine months, a 16-year-old boy in the district of Rep. Tara Mack (R-Apple Valley) was using synthetic marijuana unbeknownst to his parents. Because of his “dangerous and very scary behavior,” Mack said, the parents knew something was wrong.

“He had gotten it from some friends; was told it was some sort of a potpourri and was told it wasn’t real dangerous, but ended up having seizures and some severe medical effects because of this,” she said. “It was very disturbing.”

Sponsored by Rep. John Kriesel (R-Cottage Grove), HF57 would make it a gross misdemeanor to sell synthetic marijuana and a misdemeanor to possess the substance.

Approved Jan. 20 by the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee, it next goes to the House Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee. It has no Senate companion.

“Synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or Spice, is a mix of common herbs sprayed with synthetic chemicals that mimics the effects of marijuana,” Kriesel said. “It is currently being sold in head shops and in stores as incense or potpourri, but is being used as an inhalant for people to get high. … This product is becoming increasingly popular with teenagers because there is no minimum age to purchase the product and there are hundreds of videos on YouTube demonstrating to teenagers how to get high.”

It has been banned in 17 countries and 11 other states.

Cody Wiberg, executive director of Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, said in the first 11 months of last year there were more than 2,500 calls nationwide to poison control centers because of synthetic marijuana use.

“People who sell these products and make them sometimes like to characterize them as ‘marijuana lite.’ I can assure they are not,” he said, adding there are no medical uses for this.

Lt. Haans Vitek, with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit, said it’s also sold under names Demon, Triple X and Mr. Nice Guy. “Because it is sold as incense and labeled as ‘Not for Human Consumption,’ it has avoided federal laws against marijuana-like products.”

Representatives from the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and the Minnesota Juvenile Officers Association all spoke in support of the bill. There was no opposition.

Session Weekly More...

Session Weekly Home

Related Stories

Keeping the courts adequately funded
Public safety finance law doesn’t gut Human Rights Department
(view full story) Published 8/11/2011

Governor vetoes public safety bill
At about $1.8 billion in spending, no cuts to courts were proposed
(view full story) Published 7/15/2011

DNA - It’s all in the family
Familial DNA could help solve criminal cases, but at what cost?
(view full story) Published 4/8/2011

Creating a ‘Safe Harbor’
Wide-ranging support for bill to decriminalize juveniles exploited by prostitution
(view full story) Published 4/1/2011

Two omnibus bills merged into one
DFL legislators oppose cuts to Department of Human Rights, Civil Legal Services
(view full story) Published 4/1/2011

Safety versus savings
Home fire sprinklers would be costly, but can save lives
(view full story) Published 3/4/2011

Minnesota Index: State corrections
Figures and statistics on Minnesota's correctional system
(view full story) Published 2/25/2011

How young is too young?
Committee debates age for youth being charged as an adult in certain cases
(view full story) Published 2/18/2011