Synthetic Drug Bill

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By C.N. Staff Writer

Synthetic marijuana has hit the District. Commonly referred to as K2, Scooby Snax or Spice pill, the Fire and Emergency Management Services has seen a spike in overdoses related to this drug, many of the cases happening in and around homeless shelters.

Synthetic drugs have been found for sale at liquor stores and gas stations, among other retail establishments. They are packaged and sold under street names and are labeled to ostensibly be non-narcotic products such as incense or potpourri.

Bowser has supported taking action against the distribution of synthetic drugs for several months, and the DC Council approved her proposed emergency legislation in early July. The law requires any business caught selling synthetic drugs to detail plans to avoid selling the drug in the future and to file those with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

The first time a business is caught there is a $10,000 fine. If a business is found selling the drug a second time it can face an additional fine of $20,000 and could be shuttered for up to 30 days or. The law also gives the mayor authority to keep the business closed until the assessed fines are paid.
Businesses caught on a second offense have their business licenses revoked, shutting them down permanently. Police Chief Cathy Lanier to the Washington Post, “It’s not the cost of doing business anymore. You can’t just sell it for cash and get a slap on the wrist, because a 96-hour shutdown is significant.”

Graphic Sources: Criminal Justice Coordinating Council; To the Maximus Foundation, D.C. Police,D.C. Fire and EMS Department, Office of National Drug Control Policy | Bonnie Berkowitz, Richard Johnson and Denise Lu/The Washington Post July 18

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