New data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that one in nine high school seniors has used synthetic marijuana within the past year. Sold as a legal alternative to marijuana, the synthetic products carry a greater health risk, and in some case, have resulted in deaths.
The use of synthetics, often labeled as herbal incense or bath salts is growing nationwide, and the federal government is taking note. The U.S. House passed legislation in December permanently banning fake pot, but the Senate has yet to act.
President Obama's top drug policy advisor held a conference call with reporters Thursday and commended states for taking their own action. Gil Kerlikowske heads the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
"We simply cannot afford to wait when it comes to the health and safety of young people," he said. "I'm pleased that at the state level action is being taken and has been. Several states have already taken action to address to address the wide array of chemicals used to produce these drugs."
Legislation is before the Kentucky General Assembly, but in the meantime, a number of local governments have passed or are considering bans on the sale and use of synthetic marijuana.