K2 and Spice, your days are numbered. By a landslide 96-1 vote on Thursday the U.S. Senate passed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Safety and Innovation Act, which includes an amendment outlawing dozens of controversial synthetic drugs such as the aforementioned cannabis substitutes K2 and Spice. The lone dissenter was Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
The new FDA Act coalesces three bills previously introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota). Besides fake pot, the Act will ban synthetic chemical compounds like the hallucinatory 2C-E as well as intoxicating ingredients used in bath salts such as mephedrone, which are marketed under brand names like “Vanilla Sky” and said to combine the effects of Ecstasy with the addictive nature of methamphetamine.
The downside to the ban is that it threatens to eliminate potentially beneficial research that could be conducted by utilizing such synthetic drugs in a clinical setting, as Dr. John Huffman (who originally created synthetic pot compounds for research purposes) told AlterNet.
The new law will also double the time, from eighteen months to three years, that the DEA can extend “emergency bans” on drugs to list them as Schedule I according to the Controlled Substances Act, as the DEA did with the synthetic cannabis previously.
This past December, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the similar Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011 by a less decided majority of 317-98. Besides dimming the hopes of future research, the Reps' bill carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison for distribution of any amount of these now banned synthetic drugs, which is tame compared to the Senate version that levies a 30-year sentence for selling synthetic dope.
Senator Schumer told the Staten Island Advance that a final, “reconciled” version of the bill between the two houses of Congress will be submitted to President Obama on the all-too-ironic date of July 4.