"Oops! Drugs are legal in Michigan" (well kind of)

Oops! Drugs are legal in Michigan

In October 2010, Michigan lawmakers passed a law banning many incenses used to get high. Possession of them became a misdemeanor punishable by 90 days in jail or a $100 fine

Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge says he had introduced the bill because he had learned about the dangers of synthetic drugs being sold in Michigan as incense. The drugs were commonly known as K2, Spice, or fake marijuana.

Some of them contained salvia divinorum, a psychoactive plant. Others contained chemical concoctions made in China and sprayed on leaves.

In my research I learned that the scientists who originally developed some of these chemical concoctions said that anyone who consumes them is an idiot playing Russian roulette with their health, Senator Jones told NBC25.

Senator Jones was outraged when he learned that Governor Jennifer Granholm in late December signed a package of bills aimed at eliminating lengthy minimum sentences for minor drug crimes. One of the amendments in a bill lifted the penalties for possessing these dangerous synthetic drugs sold as incense. Jones says Granholm wrote a letter to legislators after signing the package of bills asking them to reinstate penalties in the New Year.

Oops! Drugs are legal in Michigan, said Jones. Now this was pretty shocking to me because it was my bill that banned K2.

Authorities still confiscating the drugs

While Jones calls the lifting of the ban equivalent to legalizing the drugs, the drugs are still illegal. Penalties for possession such as jail time have been lifted, but those busted with the drugs could still be charged and find themselves with a criminal record. It is a controlled substance that can be confiscated by authorities.

Selling the drugs is illegal under a different law and still carries penalties.

Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson said he spoke to the county prosecutor about this confusing change in the law after learning several businesses in his county may be selling these incenses.

His says his department confiscated numerous packages of banned incense from these businesses. He says he won TMt let a lack of penalties lead to the open abuse of a dangerous drug in his county. The county of just over 30,000 residents has had two cases where young people needed emergency medical help after experimenting with these dangerous incenses.

There is still a law, even though there are issues with the penalties being worked out, said Sheriff Hanson. We TMre going to get it one way or another.

Sheriff Hanson is not releasing the names of the businesses busted because they have not yet been charged. The sheriff says Prosecutor Timothy J. Rutkowski is reviewing the case.

NBC25's own undercover investigation found his county is not alone. These incenses are easy to buy across mid-Michigan.

Lawmakers taking action

In Lansing on Tuesday, February 15, 2011, state senators unanimously passed Senate Bill 99.

It aims to reinstate the penalties put in place in October last year for possession of salvia divinorum, synthetic marijuana, and other substances.

The bill now goes to the House where it is expected to pass with ease.

Hopefully the law will be back in place within a month, said Sen. Jones.