The latest variation of synthetic marijuana would be banned under a bill passed Monday by the state Senate, the final step before sending the bill to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.
The unanimous vote on House Bill 57 was at least the third time in as many years lawmakers have tried to outmaneuver the manufacturers of synthetic pot.
The material is sold over the counter at gas stations and convenience stores. Commonly known as K2 or Spice, the substance is composed of ground-up plant material sprayed with chemicals that mimic the active ingredient in marijuana. It sells for as little as $5 and is marketed as incense or potpourri.
It has been linked to at least three deaths that occurred last year in Georgia, despite a ban lawmakers put in place last year on certain synthetic pot recipes and individual chemical components that lawmakers thought would last.
Synthetic pot distributors, however, have repeatedly circumvented the law by tweaking the substance’s molecular structure to skirt its classification as a Schedule I narcotic.
“Quite honestly, we are being outchemicaled by these bad guys,” said Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, who is a pharmacist.
Deal quickly signed last year’s synthetic marijuana ban, which was named Chase’s Law after a Fayette County teen who drowned in a hot tub after smoking synthetic pot. The governor is expected to do the same this year with HB 57. The bill would take effect upon his signature.