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Posted on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

Gov. Snyder signs ban on K2, other similar drugs; law to take effect July 1

By Amy Biolchini


Synthetic cannabinoid products like those pictured here at Bongz 'n' Thongz in Ann Arbor will be illegal as of July 1. The business stopped selling the products about two weeks ago after heightened buzz surrounding K2 and Spice.

Melanie Maxwell I

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a ban on products like K2 and bath salts into law Tuesday afternoon after about a month of heightened awareness and publicity on the synthetic designer drugs.

Beginning July 1, synthetic cannabinoids — like the brands K2 and Spice — and synthetic cathinones — like bath salts — will be illegal in the state.

The Michigan State Police have released a toll-free tip line to report businesses that continue to sell K2 and other like products: 855-642-4847.

Washtenaw County officials launched a decal program June 8, when they asked local businesses to stop selling the drugs immediately.


A poster from the Michigan State Police announcing the ban on synthetic cannabinoids.

If the health department received a complaint about a business that was still selling, they would take more aggressive action in prosecuting the business.

As of Monday, the health department had received only two complaints and seven requests for decals, said Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, public information officer for the health department. When the businesses were investigated, the drugs in question were not found.

The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office has been distributing the decals, Ringler-Cerniglia said.

Synthetic cannabinoids are chemically engineered substances similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), the active ingredient in marijuana.

Products are referred to as incense, herbal and potpourri, and are known by several brand names -- of which K2 and Spice are the most common. They’re commonly sold in smoke shops, party stores and gas stations.

Physical side effects from smoking the drugs include loss of control, seizures, hallucinations, vomiting and elevated heart rate and blood pressure.

Synthetic cathinones are synthetic derivatives of a substance that comes from the shrub “khat."

Three weeks ago, synthetic cannabinoids could be easily found in several downtown Ann Arbor businesses - though business owners were wary about talking because of the negative buzz surrounding the products.

Employees at Ethnospot at 340 ½ State St. and Bongz ‘n’ Thongz at 119 W. Liberty St. said they stopped selling synthetic cannabinoids two weeks ago.

Michael Gilbert, owner of the herbal shop Ethnospot, said the ban on K2 and other like products — which sell for about $10 to $20 — won’t put a damper on his business.

Gilbert said he stopped ordering new shipments of synthetic cannabinoids a while ago because he anticipated they would soon become illegal, though he was under the impression it would happen in October.

Ethnospot opened about two ½ ago, Gilbert said, and has been selling synthetic cannabinoid products for more than a year.

Scott Antworth, co-owner of the smoke shop Foggy Bottom Bayou at 213 S. State St., said the business stopped selling synthetic cannabinoids in 2010 when the state outlawed the sale of specific chemicals used to make K2.

“It doesn’t interest us to sell something that’s not a part of the long-term picture,” Antworth said, calling tightening restrictions on K2 a “cat-and-mouse chase.”

Since then, manufacturers have changed the chemical formula of the products slightly — allowing the products to remain on store shelves.

When Foggy Bottom Bayou opened four years ago, Antworth said selling K2 and other like products helped launch the business.

“It made money for us,” Antworth said. “It was useful in getting us a jump start.”

Calling the synthetic cannabinoids things like “potpourri” and “incense” were tricks to get the “fad” drugs onto store shelves, Antworth said.

“We knew it would be a matter of time before a stronger law came out.”

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Audion Man

Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

What a fantastic, hyped-up, distracting bit of hysteria this was... Do you honestly think this is so important that the government display this rare, rapid reaction to it? Ridiculous...


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 12:18 a.m.


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

Total prevalence of diabetes Total: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes. New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010. In 2007, diabetes was listed as the underlying cause on 71,382 death certificates and was listed as a contributing factor on an additional 160,022 death certificates. This means that diabetes contributed to a total of 231,404 deaths. Cigarette smoking causes about 1 of every 5 deaths in the United States each year. 443,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke) Source: CDC. Motorcyclist deaths spike as helmet laws loosen As states weakened or repealed the laws, the percentage of riders who wore helmets began dropping. And fatality rates increased. In 1996, 5.6 motorcyclists were killed for every 10,000 registered motorcycles, according to Department of Transportation (DOT) statistics. By 2006, the most recent data available, the rate had risen to 7.3, the analysis shows. In raw numbers, the annual death toll rose from 2,160 to 4,810 over that same period. About 42% of riders killed were not wearing helmets. But our Know-all, "less government in our lives" congress goes after K-2? What's next, a ban on the word "vagina"?


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

I still don't get why anyone cares what someone puts in their body? It's impossible, and not their responsibility, for the government to ban every single bad thing that we could possible consume, ingest or smoke.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 12:12 a.m.

There are three businesses within walking distance of my house that are stocked to the ceiling with a chemical whose only purpose is to get high. The chemical is called "alcohol." Where is the government? This harmful compound needs to be controlled immediately! Someone call Rick and Friends.


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

Things that have no purpose other than to get high are detrimental to society and need to be banned or controlled. The potential for harm to you, others, and me is much greater if there is no control or laws providing restrictions. Granted, govt can't control everything that may be harmful, however, drugs are an easy target and should be addressed.


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

Has there been any scientific research or is this based solely upon anecdotal evidence?


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

Science and republicans are like oil and water.

Nora S.

Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 10:22 a.m.

Why wait until July 1st for this law to take effect? Why not have it begin immediately, like many other laws pushed through the Michigan legislature recently?


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

No kidding...they cram everything else through without a vote...why not this law too?


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 3:22 a.m.

I'm indifferent. I don't think they are safe because every brand has different ingredients, even different ingredients in some of the same brands so you never know if you are getting the same thing the next time you buy it. I don't think we need a law to get rid of them though; competitive markets, studies, and education would be enough. The few who still think it's a good idea are only (possibly) hurting themselves.


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 2:56 a.m.

I see Bongz and Thongz is doing their usual part as responsible citizens by not commenting and by selling K2 up to the very last moment possible. I'm hoping Wildside knocks them out of the downtown bong retail picture for good.


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

This law protects the weakest among us from being preyed upon by unscrupulous pushers of dubious chemical compounds in pursuit of their own greed. Thank you to our elected legislators and to our Governor, Rick Snyder, for doing the right thing.


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

You mean like tobacco companies and Miller Coors do? Oh thats right, if the old white guys like their buzz it is ok, but do NOT do anything that a kid would like.


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

The "do good bunch" should be proud of yet another law that does nothing. In the meantime, far more are killed by alcohol, tobacco, cars, diabetes, obesity and prescription drugs. Maybe we should get excited over the bigger problems? Sleep well Lansing.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

Leaving aside the argument that marijuana should be legal outright or not, the fact is that people on probation/parole like these products because they think that they will not show up on drug tests. I don't know if they do or not, anyone have info on that?


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 12:21 a.m.

Parolees like alcohol, too. Drink all night, sober by morning.

Blue Marker

Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

They have updated tests that now show K2.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 10:06 p.m.

I was listening to an interview on the radio this morning andthey were talking about guys in the army that do this because it doesn't show up on any tests


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

The silly part of the whole law, is people will find a new item that they can get high off of. There was a time sniffing glue was popular, then it was huffing, now this. All the while, nobody understands that the safest drug EVER is still illegal. People like to get high. It is why there are alcohol sales in this country. If they legalized marijuana, the use of many of these other drugs would decline to near nothing.


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

@grye, Alcohol is perfectly legal TODAY. Do you think the vast majority of people are getting drunk and are not productive members of society? If I smoked a joint after work I would not have an hung over, which actually does cause many people to miss work. Most of society is already on a drug. It is called caffeine. It impairs people in many ways, but people accept that people can have a coffee buzz. I am sure 5 hour energy will be on the list of banned items soon. People who want to get high, do not do it based on the legality of the item. I rather have a person getting high on pot, than taking K2, bath salts or any other artificial drug that truly is dangerous


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 1:02 a.m.

And what we need is more people getting high to create a productive society?


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 11:44 p.m.

This has always been my argument again this type of legislation. The law will never move as fast as the science and drug addicts don't care if something is illegal.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 9:45 p.m.

There would be too many DEA agents out of a job.