After a spate of cases in which people have died or been hospitalized as a result of smoking synthetic weed, state lawmakers have decided to take action. Now, as the Illinois Senate considers a ban on fake weed, leaders in the state hope to see fewer casualties resulting from the drug.
Closing the Loophole
Synthetic cannabis has been back in the headlines in Illinois in recent weeks. In particular, reports that people have been consuming fake weed laced with rat poison have surfaced.
Toward the end of April, a woman in central Illinois died after smoking synthetic cannabis that was laced with rat poison. She was the fourth casualty from the deadly mixture. Additionally, Illinois health officials said that 153 people in 13 counties have gotten sick from the cocktail in recent weeks.
Even without the rat poison, synthetic cannabis is extremely dangerous. The substance is typically a combination of numerous chemicals designed to trigger certain parts of the brain and body.
The chemicals are typically sprayed onto some sort of smokable material. Similarly, liquid forms of the drug can also be used in e-cigarettes. And although manufacturers are generally aiming to mimic the euphoric highs produced by real weed, synthetic cannabis often ends up being toxic.
In the past, Illinois lawmakers made laws prohibiting the use of certain chemical formulas. But that didn’t slow down manufacturers of synthetic cannabis. Instead, they simply came up with workaround formulas. In fact, the Chicago Tribune reported that there are now more than 80 known formulas for making synthetic cannabis.
Now, Illinois lawmakers are working to close this legal loophole. The new bill won’t just ban specific formulas. Instead, it will ban all forms of synthetic cannabis, regardless of the formula used to make them. The Senate approved the bill earlier this week. It will now move on to a vote in the House.
Other Areas Impacted By Synthetic Weed
Synthetic weed isn’t just affecting people in Illinois. This most recent spree of synthetic weed deaths has hit several other states. And in most of these cases, the synthetic cannabis has been laced with rat poison.
For example, authorities in Florida reported that the toxic mixture had shown up in the state. At least one man has died from the substance. There have also been a number of injuries and illnesses resulting from it.
In addition to Florida and Illinois, dangerous forms of synthetic cannabis have shown up in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Officials in each of these states are beginning to take action. As for Illinois, lawmakers hope their new bill will effectively shut down avenues for people to make and distribute the substance.
“What this bill does is it closes that loophole,” Senator Jacqueline Collins said of the bill moving through the Illinois legislature. “Right now you can go into many of these corner stores on the South and West Side [of Chicago] and see these drugs on display. It’s very popular, it’s cheap and easy to access, but it’s deadly.”