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Katie Sieben to introduce synthetic marijuana bill

State Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, announced today her intent to introduce a bill to the Minnesota State Legislature to ban the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana.

The bill would classify the drug as a Schedule I drug. In order to be classified Schedule I, a drug must meet three criteria: It has high potential for abuse, has no current accepted medical use in the U.S. and lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

"We know that the use of synthetic marijuana is spreading," Sieben said at a press conference in St. Paul.

As of Nov. 15, more than 2,000 calls regarding the substance had been made to poison control agencies around the state in 2010, according to an article in the "State Legislatures" magazine. In 2009, there were 14 calls.

State Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, also spoke in support of banning synthetic marijuana across the state.

"The reality - we should be dealing with it state-wide," he said.

The hope is that the bill would pass into law relatively quickly.

"We intend to move it forward expeditiously," McNamara said. "...Waiting three or four months is not the right thing."

Sixteen other states had banned synthetic marijuana, either through legislation or administrative bans. Four others have bills pending, and the city of Duluth has also banned the sale of the substance.

Sieben and McNamara first heard about the synthetic marijuana problem in the spring, when Hastings resident Stacy Huberty raised the issue after the substance nearly cost her 14-year-old son his life.