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Synthetic Drug Spice Banned in California Following Rash of Overdoses on Skid Row

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Firefighters respond to a multipatient incident attributed to Spice use in Skid Row on Aug. 22, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed legislation that outlaws the possession of the synthetic drug “spice” after law enforcement officials and paramedics tended to dozens of overdoses on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

Senate Bill 139, introduced by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) and sponsored by the California Police Chiefs Assn., adds a number of specified drugs and chemicals to the existing list of prohibited synthetic cannabinoids.

It is already a crime to sell those drugs. But the urgency measure, which was requested by the California Narcotics Officers Assn., would make a first offense of possession of specified synthetic cannabinoids or stimulants an infraction. A second or third offense could be a misdemeanor.

This law “is very important because young people believe that if a drug is not illegal, it is okay and that it is safe,” Galgiani said. “But underground chemists manufacture these drugs in warehouses and then market them to kids as being legal when in fact they are more dangerous.”

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