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Synthetic Marijuana Sellers Skirt Virginia Law

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Retailers are circumventing Virginia's ban on synthetic marijuana by including similar, but technically different compounds in their products.
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Retailers are circumventing Virginia's ban on synthetic marijuana by including similar, but technically different compounds in their products.

Earlier this year, Virginia banned the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana, but state officials say products are now being sold with similar, potentially dangerous chemicals that are not prohibited.  The State Crime Commission is currently weighing its options.

"It seems that once a compound becomes prohibited, the people who are manufacturing these preparations just take that compound out because it is prohibited, and they now add in another one that is not," says Department of Forensic Science Chemistry Program manager Linda Jackson.

Commission members discussed whether to add more compounds, or perhaps the class of chemicals, to the law.  Some wondered if the misdemeanor penalty is even a deterrent. Senator Tommy Norment said a stiff civil fine on retailers who sell the products might be effective: "And I’m talking in the neighborhood of $50,000 or $100,000 to see whether or not they’re willing to take the business risk."

The Commission plans to make a recommendation in December.

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