Herbal incense legal status went unchallenged during its introductory years; however, recent concerns over the product’s safety have produced an herbal incense ban on the local government level, and a temporary Federal synthetic marijuana ban across the United States.
Over the past decade, the popularity and use of herbal incense within the United States has increased dramatically. Herbal incense can be defined as an organic leaf and herb product sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids. Although the product’s label states it is not for human consumption, herbal incense is characteristically smoked by users to achieve a marijuana-like high. The JWH-018, JWH-200, JWH-073, CP-47497, and cannabicyclohexanol synthetic cannabinoid components of herbal incense are what produce the euphoric high sensation in the brain when inhaled. While the chemical structure of synthetic cannabinoids are different from that of cannabis THC, synthetic cannabinoids are biologically similar to marijuana, causing a pharmacologically similar effect on the brain.
Is Herbal Incense Legal?
There are a number of dangers of smoking synthetic marijuana and negative herbal incense side effects attributed to inhaling the product. Smoking herbal incense can result in nausea, vomiting, panic attacks, pulmonary palpitations, disorientation and irrational behavior. As the popularity of herbal incense has increased, so has the number of reports produced by medial facilities and law enforcement agencies warning against the product’s use. Despite regular health warnings produced and publicized by several local and state public health departments, the use of herbal incense and synthetic marijuana has continued to rise. This has caused State and Federal governments to take steps towards making synthetic marijuana and herbal incense illegal.
Herbal Incense Ban
Acknowledging the negative biological and physiological reactions experienced within the body when herbal incense is smoked, many State and local governments have taken action to control synthetic cannabinoids. Prior to 2011, several States instituted an herbal incense ban which targeted brands that were believed to contain high levels of synthetic cannabinoids. State and local government leaders cited the adverse health effects associated with smoking the product as the lead reasoning behind the herbal incense ban.
Synthetic Marijuana Ban
Following suit, in March 2011, the United States Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) temporary marked five synthetic cannabinoids (JWH-018, JWH-200, JWH-073, CP-47497, and cannabicyclohexanol) as Schedule I controlled substances. This temporary synthetic marijuana ban is based on the DEA’s belief that the synthetic cannabinoids poses an imminent health hazard to the public safety. Once a product or chemical is placed into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), it is for all intensive purposes considered illegal by the Federal Government. The Schedule I category is reserved for substances that have high potential for abuse and no consideration for legitimate medical use. Other Schedule I substances include heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.
Although the synthetic cannabinoids JWH-018, JWH-200, JWH-073, CP-47497, and cannabicyclohexanol are presently on a temporary synthetic marijuana ban, all signs indicate that the cannabinoids will be permanently affixed to the Schedule I CSA list by 2013. Once the scheduling is finalized, criminal suits can be filed against those that manufacture, distribute, and possess JWH-018, JWH-200, JWH-073, CP-47497 or cannabicyclohexanol synthetic cannabinoids.
Herbal Incense Legal Loophole
Manufactures of Herbal incense and synthetic cannabinoids are undaunted by the Federal crackdown as there is a major herbal incense legal loophole that may allow for the continued legal distribution and sale of synthetic marijuana enriched herbal incense for years to come. Manufacturers of synthetic cannabinoids are able to bypass Federal restrictions by manipulating the chemical structure of the JWH-018, JWH-200, JWH-073, CP-47497 and cannabicyclohexanol synthetic cannabinoids. In doing so, they are able to create new and chemically different synthetic cannabinoids that are not covered by the Federal synthetic marijuana ban. Although the chemically altered synthetic cannabinoids are structurally different from their Schedule I counterparts, they are pharmacologically similar, and hence capable of producing the same marijuana-high effect when smoked. Through the process of structural manipulation, there are a potentially endless number of variations that can be utilized by manufactures to stay ahead of the Federal synthetic marijuana ban.