War on “Spice” Comes to Virginia

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    Just what we (don’t) need, an expansion in the failed, wasteful “war on drugs” here in Virginia, this time on synthetic cannabis, aka “Spice” or “K2.”

    No fewer than eight state lawmakers have filed bills for next month’s legislative session that would ban the substance in Virginia.

    The dried herbs sprayed with chemicals – known as synthetic marijuana, K2 or spice – have been found in tobacco shops and gas stations in Northern Virginia, schools in Hampton Roads, even makeshift storefronts in southwest Virginia after a ban in neighboring Tennessee.

    Let’s be blunt: this is utterly ridiculous. The fact is, the “war on drugs” has been a miserable, pathetic failure, mostly a way for politicians to posture as “tough on crime.” But, as Jim Webb has pointed out in A Time to Fight, drug addiction “is a medical condition” that needs to be treated medically not criminally. Webb adds that “[t]he time has come to stop locking up people for mere possession and use of marijuana.”  And, as an AP article in May 2010 noted:

    After 40 years, the United States’ war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.

    Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn’t worked.

    Exactly right; we should be moving in the opposite direction on drugs than we’ve been going, unless of course our goal is to go “completely jail-happy,” as Webb puts it, not to mention defining insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results).

    So now, in Virginia, we’re going to criminalize “spice” (see here, here, here, here, here, etc.)? Frankly, that’s completely nuts. The fact is, every year in Virginia, alcohol and cigarettes – both legal products sold across the Commonwealth – harm, injure and kill far, far more people than marijuana or “spice” ever will. The problem is, so often in this country, when it comes to drugs and often to “crime” in general, politicians will choose posturing as “tough” over commonsense, reason, or good public policy any day of the week. And that’s just sad.

    P.S. Just to be clear, if this substance is deemed hazardous by the medical community – and there appears to be a debate on that question – it shouldn’t be on the shelves of 7-11’s, etc. But jail time for possessing it? That’s crazy.

    h/t: NLS