BATON ROUGE, La. -- A ban on an herbal mixture that gives a marijuana-like high when smoked but is sold as herbal incense won final legislative passage Monday and heads to the governor's desk.
The bill by Rep. Ricky Templet, R-Gretna, would prohibit the manufacture, sale and possession of the product that goes by names like "K2," "Voodoo," "FIYA" and "Spice" and would levy penalties like those attached to the use and sale of marijuana.
The mixture of herbs and spices is sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and it's commonly sold in head shops and convenience stores. Police officers say people roll it up in joints or inhale it from pipes.
Packages bear the warning: "not for human consumption." But supporters of Templet's proposal said teenagers are getting high from the product, knowing its effects are similar to marijuana.
The ban won final passage Monday with a 32-0 vote of the state Senate. Other states have passed similar bans.
Templet and other backers of a ban of the "synthetic cannabinoids" offered anecdotal complaints from police and parents, but no studies of the effects of the product.
Anyone convicted of manufacturing, distributing or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute the herb and synthetic mixture would face a jail sentence of up to five years.
Possession would carry a penalty of up to six months in jail on a first offense, up to five years on a second offense and up to 20 years on a third or subsequent offense. Possession of 60 pounds or more would bring a heftier penalty, with a minimum mandatory jail sentence.
Templet's bill carries exceptions for any dosage of the banned herbs and spices that is legally obtainable as a homeopathic drug recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and for anyone growing the plants for landscaping or decorative purposes only.
Three proposals to ban synthetic marijuana have been moving through the Louisiana Legislature. Templet's bill was the first to get final passage.