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Synthetic Marijuana, Illegal in Illinois

Many people have never heard of synthetic marijuana, commonly known by the brand names K2 or Spice. It is an herbal product, which contains synthetic cannabinoids, which has been growing in popularity among teenagers and young adults. Synthetic or fake marijuana has been marketed most commonly as an herbal smoking product or herbal incense. When the product is consumed (usually by smoking it), it may have an effect similar to the intoxicating effect caused by THC, which is found naturally in cannabis.

Any harmful or long-term effects from using K2 are not known. However, anyone using synthetic marijuana should be aware that they are not regulated, the exact chemical composition is not known and some harmful side effects have been reported from hospitals, including rapid heartbeat, strong hallucinations and vomiting.

The synthetic marijuana cannot be detected by a traditional drug test; however, studies have shown that its metabolites can be identified in a urine test.

Herbal Incense, an Illegal Drug in Illinois?

Spice was first introduced in Europe around 10 to 15 years ago and has been banned by many countries in the past few years. In the United States, several states have also banned synthetic cannabis and others are considering similar legislative measures.

Illinois passed a law banning K2 (a synthetic incense or potpourri) by amending the Illinois Controlled Substances Act (720 ILCS 570/204) to include the ingredients found in synthetic cannabis. The ban on Spice went into effect January 1, 2011. According to the ban, it is a felony offense to buy, sell or possess the synthetic marijuana product in Illinois.

Ken Kaupas, of the Will County Sheriff's Office, said Illinois police will be enforcing the new law by conducting sweeps on retail stores to make sure that synthetic marijuana products are no longer being sold, and narcotics task forces will also be looking for K2 or Spice, like they do other illegal drugs.

What are Class 4 Felony Penalties?

An individual who is charged with illegally possessing synthetic marijuana could face Class 4 felony penalties in Illinois if convicted. Class 4 felony penalties may include:

  • A prison term of one to three years
  • Fines up to $25,000

Those convicted of a Class 4 felony may also face mandatory drug testing, counseling and probation.

If you have questions about how the K2 ban could affect you, or if you have been charged with an offense under the new law in Illinois, please speak to an attorney experienced in criminal defense. A lawyer can explain your legal options and help you preserve your rights.