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TRENTON, N.J. -- The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has formally adopted a regulation making the state's ban on all variants of synthetic marijuana permanent. The move follows a temporary ban enacted in February.
New Jersey now becomes the fourth state to comprehensively outlaw the manufacture, distribution, sale, and possession of all of the hundreds of possible variants of the dangerous, manmade drug, which is commonly known by brand names such as "K2," "K3," "Spice" and "Kush," according to state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa.
The permanent regulation took effect on Nov. 19 following a public hearing and comment period. The temporary order was set to expire later this month.
"These synthetic poisons, once offered as a so-called 'legal high' by shady retailers, are now permanently off the market in New Jersey -- and the numbers indicate our ongoing ban has led to a decline in their reported use," Chiesa said. "These drugs have grown in popularity nationwide, despite their alarming and catastrophic side effects. Today they are permanently on record as being just as illegal as cocaine or heroin."
The Division of Consumer Affairs' ban adds these chemicals to the list of Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substances in New Jersey. As Schedule I CDS, the drugs are now subject to the highest level of state control, along with cocaine and heroin. Manufacture, distribution, sale, or possession of the chemicals is now a third-degree crime. Violators may be subject to a fine of up to $25,000 and three to five years in jail.
"New Jersey's law enforcement agencies now have the tools they need to shut down the sellers of these toxic drugs, and keep them away from anyone misguided enough to use them," Eric T. Kanefsky, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. "And the public is now fully aware that, despite colorful labels and catchy brand names, K2 and Spice are associated with dangerous side effects including seizures, hallucinations, panic attacks, and suicide."
The permanent ban on synthetic marijuana comes a year and a half after the state Division of Consumer Affairs banned bath salts.