Readers: Marijuana — Synthetic or Not — Is Not the Problem in Colorado

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In a state where recreational marijuana is legal, why are some people still using faux pot? That's a question that arose from the recent indictment of two men in Jefferson County for the "manufacturing, distribution and sale of herbal cigarettes laced with synthetic cannabinoid," defined as "a chemical that is sprayed onto a plant-based material. Its most common street name is 'spice.'" 

Amanda Bent of the Drug Policy Alliance has some answers. She writes:

This article raises the important point that synthetic cannabinoids are often used by those who are seeking the effects of marijuana but wish to avoid detection if they are subjected to drug testing through the criminal justice system or other contexts of surveillance. Given the stark reality that the health risks associated with drugs are exacerbated by punitive policies no matter what the legal status of a given substance, this phenomenon is hardly surprising. The notion that marijuana is “non-addictive” is misleading. Like any other substance, some people who use marijuana develop problems related to that use. Most don’t and those who do can generally benefit from supports, not punishment. Our policy responses to drug use should not cause more harm than drug use in and of itself, as is the case when people feel compelled to take the risk of ingesting synthetic cannabinoids as a substitute for marijuana. Since synthetic cannabinoids tend to be more harmful than marijuana could ever be, we must keep our public health priorities in proper perspective by advocating for comprehensive drug education and humane and effective harm reduction interventions that are not so myopically focused on abstinence.

And Bill says this about the federal stance on marijuana:

They'll move marijuana to Schedule II right before the election and say that medical marijuana petitions are completely unnecessary. Then of course they'll make medical marijuana harder to get legally than Oxycontin and the only medical marijuana products ever available legally will be pills from Big Pharma. This rescheduling thing is one of those "be careful what you wish for because you just might get it" things. Like alcohol and tobacco, it should not be scheduled at all. If it had to be scheduled, Schedule IV would be more appropriate, like drugs like Xanax. Cocaine in is Schedule II. Meth is Schedule II. Oxycontin is Schedule II. That is the schedule for highly addictive drugs prone to causing major problems in society.

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