A ban on all synthetic marijuana sales in Chicago is the goal of Chicago aldermen, led by Edward Burke and Matthew O'Shea. What are some questions to answer about the proposed law?
What is synthetic marijuana?
The herbal smoking blends are a combination of herbs, spices and chemicals. They are found mainly in small foil packs or plastic zip bags, and they are marketed as incense or potpourri under the names "K-2", "Spice," "Skunk," "Mr. Nice Guy," and many more.
Isn't there already a state ban on artificial marijuana?
Yes. But manufacturers just evade the law by changing the chemicals. Fake weed is sold legally in head shops, gas stations and convenience stores. Therefore, under the proposed Chicago ordinance, any produce marketed as a chemically derived pot would be banned with sellers facing up to $1,000 fines and possible loss of their business licenses.
Why are the aldermen putting so much effort into this?
The recent death of Aurora's 19-year-old Max Dobner, who died after smoking the substance and driving 100 mph, crashing his car into a house, brought the issue to the forefront. "When they went to the mall, he had a conversation with his friend, and they had decided that since it's legal, it must be safe," Max's mother Karen Dobner said. "And that is what has spurred my battle to make sure that this stuff gets pulled off the shelves."
What are the risks of smoking fake herb?
According to Dr. Robert Glatter of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, since the contents of the products are never the same, it's like "playing Russian Roulette." The mixtures can cause hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, paranoid behavior, panic attacks, elevated blood pressure and seizures that can be fatal.
Jolie du Pre is a full-time freelance writer, published author and editor who lives in Chicago. She has immersed herself in the "Windy City" for more than 30 years and brings that experience to her articles.