Marijuana substitute soon to be illegal
It's called several different names such as Serenity Now, K2, Dark Night, Puff and Voodoo Spice.
Teenagers describe it best as “fake weed.” It’s allowed in most states, including Alabama. However that will change July 1.
In April, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill outlawing several legal products that have effects simililar to marijuana.
The Senate voted 24-0 to give final approval to a bill by Democratic Rep. James Gordon of Saraland that makes it a crime to have salvia divinorum, salvinoroum A, and three chemicals that act like marijuana.
Brandon Brown, a Jackson County Court Referral officer, said it's an incense that people, mostly teenagers, are substituting for marijuana.
“A ton of people are doing it,” said Brown. “It gives the same or even more of a high than a marijuana joint.”
The high is also in the purchase amount, according to Brown. He said three joints of Serenity Now cost about $45.
“People are getting it in Madison County or buying it off the Internet,” he said.
Chief Deputy Chuck Phillips of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and Sgt. Scott Matthews of the Scottsboro Police Department said both of their departments have had little dealings with the product.
“We’ve seen a little of it,” said Matthews, “but not much.”
Phillips said his department knows of an individual in the county selling the product.
“Once the law goes into effect, we’re going to shut him down,” said Phillips.
Brown said people need to be made aware of the problem.
“Nobody knows a lot about it,” he said.
According to the DEA, salvia divinorum is imported from Mexico and Central and South America and is sold as seeds, plant cuttings, whole plants, fresh and dried leaves and liquid extracts.
Brown said the "fake weed" appears more harmful than the real stuff.
"There are longer lasting problems," he said, adding that one individual who used it more than a year ago still has dizziness and headaches.
Law enforcement officials said, after July 1, it will be treated the same as the marijuana law.
A first conviction will result in a misdemeanor, and a second conviction will be treated as felony.
By Dewayne Patterson
The Daily Sentinel
Published May 18, 2010