A Baton Rouge mother has started a crusade against a form of marijuana her son buys legally. She wants the possibly dangerous "Gonjah," which is sold everywhere from smoke shops to convenience stores, outlawed.
Gonjah is a mix of blended herbs, sold in stores often along with pipes and another paraphernalia, but unlike marijuana, this mixture comes up clean on a drug test.
"It's circulating throughout the community, through children and other individuals," said the concerned parent.
The mother asked that 9 News hide her identity to protect her teenage son's reputation. She says he's been smoking pot, so she now routinely tests him for drugs. They've all come back clean.
"We don't know what it is," said the mother.
Recently, she found a little canister in his pocket. It's labeled "Gonjah Herbal Blend". She says it came from a Baton Rouge convenience store, and what's inside looks just like marijuana.
"I'm completely appalled. I would like for other parents to be aware of it," said the mother.
The ingredients are all herbal. No marijuana is listed, but she says after she tried it, the effects are similar. East Baton Rouge sheriff's officials say the main difference is the herbal blend is harder to detect and legal, at least for now.
"No one need to be operating a vehicle on this. It's chemically induced in some way," said the mother.
Narcotics investigators say the label "not for human consumption" that is placed on the canisters is part of how retailers get the product on store shelves.
The product comes in different flavors and is sometimes sold with smoking equipment. A small three gram container costs $60.
"It's being sold as a smokeable substance. It's being marketed as incense, but there's no way it can even be burned as incense," said the mom.
Denham Springs Representative Bodi White says he is working with the East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's department to draft legislation against the herbal product. He says he plans to file a bill during the next legislative session. Several other states have already outlawed this product.
By Caroline Moses
December 29, 2009