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Local Bans on Synthetic Pot Cause Headaches in Wisconsin: Part II

In my last post, I focused on how letting individual cities enact their own legislation is causing problems for users and distributors of synthetic pot. Many are breaking the law without realizing it, based solely on where they happen to be standing. This small detail has resulted in drug charges for some who thought the law was on their side.

The issue of synthetic pot raises a larger question though. If synthetic pot is bad, why hasn't it been outlawed nationwide? This is the issue I'd like to address today.

The first big problem is determining whether synthetic pot is harmful. The drug hasn't been around long enough to conduct extensive studies, so the answer is unclear. Meanwhile, representatives from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency are claiming that synthetic pot produces dangerous side effects. Some of these include vomiting, increased heart rate and blood pressure, anxiety, and even seizures. However, only an extensive long-term study would be able to confirm this.

The other safety concern is whether a user of synthetic pot becomes harmful to those around him. For instance, driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana will result in a DUI charge. These drugs have been proven to impair judgment and coordination. However, it is still unclear what short-term effects synthetic pot has on the human body, other than providing a "high." There are conflicting accounts which will require long-term study.

Finally, some cities are hesitant to ban synthetic pot because they are worried about intruding upon current drug laws already in effect. The wording of specific state and regional drug laws varies widely. Some states have laws banning specific drugs. Other states' laws use wording which is vague and could be said to encompass new drugs. Therefore, some local lawmakers worry that they could be passing redundant legislation.

The use of synthetic pot is still legal in parts of Wisconsin, but that is rapidly changing. More and more communities are banning the drug every week and these individual bans are causing confusion and strife amongst communities and law enforcement. It may be years before any action is taken at the federal level to ban or approve synthetic pot. But users in Wisconsin should be warned: with local laws changing every day, what you don't know can hurt you.

Source: Journal Sentinel online, "More suburbs ban synthetic pot," Tom Tolan, 12 December 2010

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