Indiana adopts strengthened ban on synthetic marijuana

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Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law Thursday a bill that strengthens the ban on synthetic drugs in Indiana.

The new law prohibits businesses from selling synthetic stimulants nicknamed "bath salts" or other drugs that mimic marijuana. Retailers could lose their business licenses for a year if they're caught selling those drugs.

The law also adds several chemical compounds to a law passed last year banning marijuana-like drugs known as spice or K-2.

The drugs were often sold at gas stations, so Eyewitness News did a check on some of those businesses around Indianapolis to see if they were in compliance.

Eyewitness News photo journalist Jacob Jennings walked into a gas station at 30th and College just after the ban took effect. A clerk told him they didn't carry spice anymore.

"Spice is bad for you," a customer told Jennings.

Good answer, because starting right now it is illegal to possess and sell the substance.

The potentially deadly spice was first banned here last year but resurfaced when makers made slight chemical changes to the formula. The new law closes that loophole.

"When did you stop selling it here?" we asked the clerk at a Broad Ripple shop. "A long time ago," he said, then added, "We never even sold that stuff."

Actually when the first ban took effect last summer a different clerk told us they had just stopped selling spice. When we went back Thursday: "We don't sell any. You see our shelves are clear." He added, "That would be illegal...there was a ban that passed today."

A grandfather nearby told us about spice: "I think that's dangerous - that's very dangerous."

The law now lets the State Pharmacy Board check the chemistry of a new product and ban it. A business selling it loses its license for a year.

"If you have a rogue clerk who is selling it out the back door or under the counter, that individual will get in significant trouble," said Sen. Jim Merritt, (R-Indianapolis).

That made us wonder what was happening at a store on Keystone. Jacob asked about spice: "You don't have it?"

The clerk said, "We can't sell it in the store. We can sell it on the street."