Georgia senator wants to make synthetic pot illegal

Sen. Ed Harbison (D-Columbus) plans to introduce a bill next week that would make synthetic pot -- known as K2 or "spice" -- illegal.

The substance, which like potpourri and is marketed as incense, is sold in smoke shops. It mimics the affects of THC, the chemical in marijuana that gives users a high.

But K2 is actually much stronger, and that's giving Harbison and other officials concern.

"It's apparently something very serious that's been under the radar," he said. "We have to do something to react before we're way behind the eight ball on it."

A group of teenagers ended up at North Fulton Medical Center last Sunday after smoking the substance.

"It's legal, it's right there in front of the face of the kids, and they know about it," Harbison said Friday. "And I think we need to know about it."

The drug is illegal in Oklahoma. K2 is classified as a "Schedule 1″ drug in that state. Other drugs classified as "schedule 1″ include heroin, marijuana and GHB.

Harbison said he's talking to district attorneys to determine what class K2 should fall in.

"You're doing that so they know how to enforce it," he said.

Rep. Jay Neal (R-LaFayette) said he will introduce a bill on Monday to ban the substance. He has been working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab to help classify the chemicals.

"It’s really begun to show it’s presence here in the last little bit ... the scrutiny that the media is putting on it, and some of the things we've seen happen, it’s going to be a growing problem and I believe a rapidly growing problem if we don’t address it on the front end."

Roswell police officers had never heard of the substance until North Fulton Medical Center called them last Sunday.

Officials ran the usual tests for methamphetamines, marijuana and cocaine, and all came up “negative,” Roswell Police Lieutenant James McGee said.

“We were trying to figure out what they were on,” he said.

“After questioning them, they said they were smoking Spice, and at the time, our officers didn’t have a clue as to what Spice was.”

The synthetic drug has been around since the mid-90s, created after a doctor studied the affects of THC, the chemical in marijuana that gives users a high.

But the K2 can be much stronger, McGee said.

“One of the students had swelling in the brain,” he said.

McGee said that was one of the more severe reactions he’s heard of.

Two of the teens were admitted for observation but have since been released from the hospital, he said.

Because it’s legal, McGee said police could not file charges.

“There’s nothing we can do at this time,” he said.

“Since this has hit the news, I’m sure it’s going to be the talk.”