New Jersey Bans Synthetic Marijuana

New Jersey State Attorney General Jeffery Chiesa recently announced a temporary ban on the possession and sale of all forms of synthetic marijuana. Before the ban, synthetic marijuana could be legally sold over the counter at gas stations and convenience stores, often being labeled as "potpourri" or "incense" and was not affected by laws prohibiting marijuana. The drug contains a combination of herbs and plant materials that are covered with chemicals that imitate the effects marijuana has on the brain.

Since the manufacture of synthetic marijuana is not regulated or standardized, it is impossible for users to determine its potency and what chemicals were used to make the product.

Synthetic Marijuana's Adverse Health Effects

One of the main reasons for the ban are the unpleasant side effects that users of synthetic marijuana can suffer. According to health care providers, anxiety attacks, convulsions, nausea, hallucinations and increases in blood pressure and heart rates are typical side effects. In more severe cases, users can experience seizures, heart attacks and schizophrenia-like psychological conditions.

Health problems caused by the use of synthetic marijuana have caused New Jersey's Poison Control centers to experience a 711 percent increase between 2010 and 2011. Nearly all of the cases required hospitalization.

Details of the Ban

Thomas Calcagni, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, issued the ban by the powers granted to him under the New Jersey Controlled Substances Act to restrict the availability of chemical substances that have a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value. The ban is temporary in nature and is in effect for 270 days, giving time for the legislature to act to make it permanent.

Violation of the ban results in criminal penalties just like any other drug offense. Anyone who manufactures, sales, distributes or possesses synthetic marijuana can be charged with a third-degree crime. If convicted, a suspect can be fined up to $25,000 and imprisoned between three and five years.

If you have been charged with a drug offense such as possessing synthetic marijuana, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can advise you of your rights and prepare an effective defense based on your individual circumstances.