Local law enforcement officials expressed their satisfaction with Senate Bill 370 becoming law in Georgia.
SB 370, named "Chase’s Law," was signed by Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday, and it prohibits all forms of synthetic marijuana in the state.
Over the past year, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office has taken a proactive approach in removing "spice," as synthetic marijuana is known, off the streets in Effingham County. The synthetic marijuana had to be tested so it could be determined if certain chemicals were mixed inside of it for it to be illegal.
Now that Gov. Deal has signed "Chase’s Law," any form of synthetic marijuana is deemed illegal and those who possess the substance will be charged.
"I support this bill being signed by Gov. Deal," said Effingham Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie, "and we believe that this is huge step in fighting the war on drugs. Spice is one of the most dangerous drugs in our society."
"These synthetic substances pose an enormous risk to our public safety," said Deal. "As the usage has dramatically increased, instances of violence, bodily harm and even death have risen with it. I applaud the GBI and the General Assembly for their fast work on this legislation, which addresses a pressing need."
SB 370 was named Chase’s Law in memory of Chase Corbitt Burnett, a 16-year-old honor student and soccer player found dead in a hot tub at his parent’s Fayette County home after smoking the substance. Burnett’s family joined GBI Director Vernon Keenan, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, House Speaker Ralston and others at the bill signing.
Synthetic cannabinoids contain marijuana-like chemical compounds combined with different forms of dried vegetation. These products are sold in gas stations throughout the state and are purchased and smoked by individuals in search of a legal high.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 6,959 calls nationwide related to adverse effects associated with synthetic cannabinoid compounds in 2011. This is nearly 2.4 times the amount of calls in 2010. Doctors have determined that synthetic marijuana can cause psychosis and increase the tendency of violent behavior. In September of last year, a Bulloch County woman was hospitalized after her boyfriend brutally assaulted her while under the influence of synthetic marijuana. Just this month, a 17-year-old in Washington state who was high on synthetic marijuana fatally stabbed a sleeping schoolmate because he felt "an urge to hurt someone."
Keenan and other law enforcement officials from across the state requested immediate signing of SB 370 in order to begin the crackdown on the substances.
The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office wants to advise all businesses and any other citizen in Effingham County that they may contact the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, which will collect the substance and destroy it at no cost.
Anyone who is found to be in possession of synthetic marijuana who has not notified the Sheriff’s Office will be arrested. Those who possess the substance can face charges of possession of a controlled substance, which is a felony.