Local law enforcers applaud 'K2' bans
Federal and state legislators have taken action to ban the chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana, often called K2 or bath salts, and local law enforcement officials are taking notice.
"It just keeps a continued effort on our end to keep enforcing that and sending the message that this is not good," Clay County Sheriff Randy Krukow said. "It's not like meat and potatoes. It's not going to help your body any."
Spencer Police Chief Mark Lawson is pleased that the legislation bans the chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana and not just the finished product.
"It broadens that so instead of the scope being narrow, which was the criticism from law enforcement last year, they've widened it and broadened it to include more substances," Lawson said.
Iowa's law identifies 43 drug compounds and also includes five broader classes of synthetic cannabinoids.
By law, which went into effect May 25, selling or possessing synthetic drugs with intent to deliver are aggravated misdemeanors, carrying punishment of up to two years in prison and a $6,250 fine. Possession of the substance is classified as a serious misdemeanor, which could result in up to a year in prison and a $1,875 fine.
If local law enforcement believes they have found a banned substance, they will send it to the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations lab for testing.
Both Lawson and Krukow acknowledged the substance has posed a problem within the county.
"Right now, we've been finding it secondary to an operating while intoxicated arrest or disturbance complaint," Lawson said. "We've had some complaints earlier this spring; with school in session, we had students hospitalized for bath salts. We're being proactive, but also being reactive. You never know when we're going to come across this. If we learn people are ordering this from the Internet, we will investigate that, too."
Krukow added that local use of the designer drugs has become more evident over the past two years.
Side effects include anxiety, panic attacks, agitation, elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rate or respiration, vomiting, hallucinations and seizures.
The suicide of an 18-year-old Iowan after using K2 prompted Sen. Chuck Grassley to introduce the David Mitchell Rozga Act, banning the chemicals used to make such drugs.
"Anybody who ingests this substance is risking their lives," Grassley said. "A federal ban will go a long way in preventing this poison from causing any more harm."
Lawson and Krukow agree.
"You would hope that people are smart enough to realize they passed this because it's a detriment to health and well-being to anyone who would try to ingest it," Lawson said. "Hopefully, they realize there's a reason for that. ... Unfortunately, some people will still try it and end up in the emergency room or funeral home."
"The state can only do so much, so with the federal ban, this is really going to help," Krukow added. "It's another tool in the tool belt."