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Statewide ban takes some drugs off the shelf


Herbal incense products such as K-2, Spice, Serenity Now and Salvia have been deemed illegal by state law effective starting July 1. | Contributed


Several incense-based herb tobacco products were pulled from the shelves before stores carrying the substances could open up for business on Thursday.

An act banning herbal incense products such as K-2, Spice, Serenity Now and Salvia was signed into law by Gov. Bob Riley and went into effect statewide July 1.

The drugs named in the ban have been marketed and sold as producing a high, which induces an intense, dreamlike experience with no additives that can be unpleasant or frightening for first-time users.

Reports indicate that it is the man-made spray on the tobacco leafs that made these now illegal products so potent.

Some stores who sell the products have mentioned relocating to Tennessee where the ban doesn’t apply.

Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said the ban signed by the governor is a good thing.

“Some of the products that were banned were three to four times more potent then marijuana,” he said. “We have had a lot of repeat offenders that deal with marijuana who have swapped over and at the point in time there was nothing we could do about it, but now we can and that is good news.”

Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing brought the issue of salvia use to light in the summer of 2007 after a group of local teenagers told him about the growing popularity of salvia use.

Rushing helped spearhead an effort, which was led by Sen. Roger Bedford and Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, to have it banned statewide.

“We have already had cases go through the court system dealing with synthetic marijuana,” Rushing said. “The defendant claimed to have purchased it from a local tobacco store in Sheffield. Here in our community I have had complaints from parents that there teens have been ordering salvia, which serves as a powerful hallucinogenic, off the Internet.

“It was hard to control because there wasn’t a law written to fight theses substances, but now with the ban going into effect we will now have the power to prosecute users and those who supply these products.”

Rushing said most people who deal out these natural herb-based substances target a younger demographic because of their computer savvy capabilities.

Rushing said the same penalties that apply when being caught with marijuana would apply in these new cases.

“If a person is caught using any of these type substances strictly for personal use without the intent to sale and it is their first time to be caught it will be considered a misdemeanor,” Rushing said.

“If a person is caught using for personal use the second time or has the intent to sell the products for the first time it will be considered a Class C felony punishable by one to ten years in prison when convicted.”

Rushing believes the substances are still premature meaning not widely known of and probably won’t be a big problem on the streets in Franklin County anytime soon.