Fake pot is going down swinging

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As it turns out, Mr. Nice Guy isn't so nice to everybody.

Just ask very pissed-off mom Nancy Ferreira, who, as the Sun-Sentinel reported yesterday,  rushed her 14 and 17 year old sons to the hospital on New Year's Eve after they smoked the "incense" marked "not for human consumption," but well known as a synthetic marijuana. The younger Ferreira suffered 10 seizures and had dangerously high blood pressure, the article reports, while the elder spent 24 hours in the hospital for lesser injuries. Because of incidents like these, the DEA has moved to temporarily ban five cannabinoid chemicals prevalent in these "incenses," a development which we covered in our last issue.

After the obligatory 30-day period for public warning of the ban ended on Christmas Eve, the DEA was able to make it enforceable. But it still hasn't yet. "We're still working on that right now," DEA spokesman Rusty Payne told the Weekly today. "It could be a couple days; it couple weeks. Just keep checking the website."

The Sun-Sentinel piece features some figures which demonstrate the sudden and swift rise in the popularity of the drug: "The American Association of Poison Control Centers has heard of adverse effects from smoking the incense from its 60 members across the United States since the last quarter of 2009, when there were 14 reported cases. In 2010, there were 2,862 cases. During the first four days of 2011, there were 42 calls for help."

The article also refers to a federal lawsuit recently filed against the ban by four Minnesota retailers of the product. Their attorney, Marc Kurzman, demonstrates that he is clearly an attorney:

"It's very dangerous to drink bleach and everyone knows that," he said, "but it's not illegal to drink bleach and you don't put people in jail for possessing it."

Fast forward to the courtroom: the DEA's defense lawyers would refute that statement by arguing people don't buy bleach to drink, but they do buy Mr. Nice Guy to smoke, regardless of the warning labels.

But, argues the prosecution, where's the evidence, besides anecdotes? Where's the numbers? How do we know that the majority of buyers of K2, Spice, and Mr. Nice Guy aren't just using those "incenses" to give their homes that lovely watermelon Jolly Rancher smell? Sure, some kids are smoking it and ending up in the hospital, but have you checked if they've been taught to read? Perhaps what we have have here is not a problem of drug abuse, but of literacy.

If you want more legal counsel, Mr. Kurzman, we'll be here until 5:30.

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