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Fake pot remains a moving target
Ga. law agencies work to stay a step ahead of synthetic marijuana
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Just more than two months after “Chase’s Law” was adopted by state legislators banning all forms of synthetic marijuana, state law enforcement officials are again setting their sites on curbing the distribution of the drug.Earlier this week, the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy, per the request of Gov. Nathan Deal, adopted an emergency rule classifying newly discovered compounds of synthetic cannabinoids as Schedule I substances.The rule provides law enforcement the authority to seize the new products but not the ability to prosecute for criminal penalties.According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, use of the drug commonly referred to as “spice” has been widespread even after Senate Bill 370, or Chase’s Law, was passed in March.“After that law went into effect on March 27 upon the signature of the governor, the companies or manufacturers (of synthetic marijuana) came back with a completely new product,” said John Bankhead, spokesman for the GBI.Bankhead said the bureau saw a dramatic drop in cases once the law was passed. But manufacturers soon started making products that were technically legal by changing the drug’s molecular structure.But changing the structure, medical professionals say, can have dramatic consequences.“Once you start manipulating a chemical structure, the side effect profile can change dramatically and that’s what we’re worried about,” said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center.