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Georgia's quest to ban synthetic cannabis becomes a long, frustrating game of Whack-A-Mole

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  • Joeff Davis
  • The real stuff is illegal but the fake stuff isn't - at least not yet


There's a big game of Whack-A-Mole set to begin in Georgia over synthetic cannabis (aka Spice, K2 or Genie).

It all started in the 1990s when a professor at Clemson University received a $2 million grant from the government to study the interaction between THC and cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Underground chemists took the chemical compound created from that study and sprayed it on a mixture of herbs and plants, which created synthetic cannabis.

In 2010, state lawmakers thought they'd done away with the drug, which had caused the hospitalization of several teens, by classifying the synthetic cannabinoid as Schedule I drugs, the same class as heroin and LSD. But manufacturers tweaked the chemical formula and were able to sneak around the law. Synthetic cannabis was soon back on the shelves of Peach State smoke shops and convenience stores.

In early March, Chase Burnett, a 16-year-old teenager from Fayette County, smoked the legal substance. He was later found dead after drowning in a hot tub. Several weeks later, Gov. Nathan Deal signed "Chase's Law," which made all variations of the chemical compound illegal. State lawmakers had finally passed a law broad enough to prevent the substance from making its way into stores.

Or so they thought.



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