Georgia dads press lawmakers to end synthetic pot trade

Though the law that bears his son’s name is about to be bolstered, David Burnett knows that won’t be enough to eliminate the synthetic marijuana trade.

“We are very grateful that Chase’s law is being amended, but science always seems to be one step ahead of the game,” said Burnett, whose 16-year-old son died last March after smoking Mojo Diamond Extreme 100X Potpourri. The product was purchased at a Fayette County convenience store. Chase’s death was one of three in Georgia last year linked to synthetic pot, commonly known as K2 or Spice.

The amended law will add new chemicals to the list of outlawed cannabinoids, but Burnett said a more comprehensive approach is needed. Synthetic pot distributors have repeatedly circumvented the law by tweaking the substance’s molecular structure to skirt its classification as a Schedule I narcotic.

“It’s like a whac-a-mole game,” Burnett said. “You never know what’s going to come next.”

In the short-term, however, new legislation will give law enforcement the ability to prosecute those who peddle synthetic pot. But House Bill 57, sponsored by representatives Matt Ramsey, Rich Golick, Kevin Cooke, Dustin Hightower, Micah Gravley and Kevin Cooke, is just a first step, said Bremen dad Lance Dyer, whose 14-year-old son, Dakota, shot himself last March after smoking the drug.

HB 57 and the amended Chase’s Law are expected to pass easily.

“Is our job finished? Far from it,” said Dyer, who, like Burnett, is pursuing civil action against the manufacturers of the designer drugs he said killed his son.

Both fathers agree that current “line-item” approach to legislation, in which chemicals are banned as they are identified, will never completely eliminate the sale of synthetic pot.

“Their science will beat our legislation every time,” Dyer said.

It’s frustrating, but the two political neophytes are optimistic they will prevail one day.

“We’re getting there,” said Dyer, adding that he’s been assured lawmakers, working in concert with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, are aware of what needs to be done.

And neither dad will let lawmakers forget it.

“You ask yourself, ‘When does common sense prevail?’ ” Burnett said. “Our mission is education and awareness, and we’re accomplishing that. I just want more. We’ve got to eliminate this poison that’s being sold to our kids.”