A bill banning chemicals used in the manufacture of bath salts and synthetic marijuana has passed the Louisiana Legislature and is on its way to Governor Jindal for signature. Once signed, it will become effective on July 15, 2011. (click for full text)
Besides banning the sale, manufacture or possession of “bath salts”, the new law also rewrites a law passed last year that bans the sale of synthetic marijuana. Last year a law took effect in Louisiana that banned four popular chemicals used to make fake pot. The Drug Enforcement Administration also banned a total of five substances nationwide. But manufacturers quickly reacted to the laws, and to avoid prosecution, came up with a different formulations for the synthetic ingredients which had a marijuana-like effect, but that were not banned.
The new law is designed to criminalize “entire groups” of chemicals that could be used to make the pseudo-marijuana and the bath salts. By expanding the law, all of the groups of ingredients used to make the fake marijuana and the bath salts are intended to be banned. [Author’s note: Whether this law would ban all possible ingredients that could be used to make synthetic marijuana is not clear. I have consulted a biochemist about this issue because the answer depends on a fairly in-depth analysis of the molecular structure of various compounds.]
Under the new law, the penalties for making, possessing or selling the bath salts would be the same as making, possessing or selling cocaine and other Schedule I drugs. Presumably the penalties for possession, manufacture and sale of synthetic marijuana would be the same as regular marijuana, although the law (unlike the old one it would replace) is silent as to the inclusion of synthetic marijuana in the existing sentencing structure for marijuana.