Over the past week at least 11 Georgians have been hospitalized after smoking synthetic marijuana called “Crazy Clown.” Many users were in critical condition. The event prompted the state senator, who has led efforts to outlaw synthetic pot and bath salts, to call for change in the battle plan.
Georgia State Senator Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) said the very laws he’s championed for the past three years are not making enough of a dent in the synthetic drug trade. Every time state legislatures outlaw a particular synthetic drug formula, manufacturers make slight changes to keep their product legal.
“Some of the new formulations out there have even more side effects than what they were before,” Carter said. “Sometimes, we’re chasing our own tail.”
Synthetic cannabinoids are available online or over the counter at convenience stores and smoke shops nationwide. Lance Dyer, who’s 14-year old son committed suicide after smoking synthetic marijuana, welcomes Carter’s willingness to try something new.
“That’s a game changer,” he said. “[Lawmakers] recognize that what we have is not working and they’re willing to at least entertain other options."
But the question remains, what else can lawmakers come up with to deal with what Dyer defines as “an increasingly deadly epidemic”? Both men agree it’s time to get the federal government more involved.
“I think having more involvement from the FDA in the requirements for packaging and labeling, those are the types of things I mean when I say it’s time to think outside the box,” Carter said.
Dyer suggested another tactic would be to broaden the definition of an outlawed synthetic drug to say, “any synthetic cannabinoid that mimics the effect of a control substance should be considered an illegal narcotic with no medicinal value.”
Dyer said, if lawmakers like Sen. Carter are willing to consider new alternatives to outlawing specific synthetic drug formulas, the upcoming legislative session could be a milestone in his effort to be rid of them once and for all.