Local officials are calling for state legislators to outlaw the sale of synthetic marijuana and similar products that law enforcement officials say can pack a dangerous high. Washington County commissioners passed a resolution last month calling on the Tennessee General Assembly to ban the sale of herb blends that have been sprayed with chemicals to simulate the effects of marijuana. These products are sold as herbal incense under a number of brand names, including K2 and Spice.
While the sale of these products is legal in Tennessee, Virginia and other states have banned the specific chemical compounds used in these products and have outlawed other substances drug manufacturers might use to circumvent the ban.
As Press staff writer Kate Prahlad reported last week, Tennessee has made several attempts to ban products containing certain ingredients, but the products become legal again as soon as manufacturers change the specific ingredients banned to those not regulated.
Jason Catoe, who owns businesses in Gray and Kingsport that sell many of the products that would be included in the proposed statewide ban, believes the attention his stores receive is unwarranted. He told Prahlad that many other convenience stores and markets sell the exact same products with ingredients Washington County is hoping the state will ban.
“These products have the same ingredients as Tylenol or shampoo,” Catoe said. “They’d have to ban Walmart too.”
Meanwhile, Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips is not waiting for the state General Assembly to outlaw these products. He has asked Model City officials to pass a resolution to ban the possession and sale of synthetic marijuana and bath salts within the city’s limits. We want to know what you think. Should the sale of synthetic marijuana be made illegal in Tennessee? Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.
We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks. You also can go to www.johnsoncitypress.com to cast a vote in the online poll. Results of the poll and comments from readers will appear on this page Dec. 13.