Joined by law enforcement and other community officials, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the “Sale of Synthetic Drugs Emergency Amendment Act of 2015” into law July 10, in a proactive step to cleanse Washington, D.C., of synthetic marijuana.
The new law allows the Metropolitan Police Department to enforce harsh penalties on businesses found selling the substance and comes on the heels of a dangerous spike in overdoses and links to violent crimes around the city, most recently a fatal stabbing aboard a Metro train.
Authorities are now granted the right to issue businesses caught selling the drugs a $10,000 fine and to be shut down for 96 hours as a first offence. Repeat offenders will be fined $20,000 and shut down for 30 days followed by the revoking of their license.
“The District will not tolerate the selling of these drugs,” Bowser said upon signing the law. “This is very important legislation that will help get synthetic drugs off of shelves of D.C. retailers and off the streets.”
MPD Chief Cathy Lanier praised the efforts made by city government officials to pass the law and added that law enforcement will be vigilant in stopping the sale of synthetic drugs.
“This drug is dangerous not only to those who use it, but everyone around them. The risk is just too high for us not to be aggressive,” Lanier said.
Synthetic drugs are packaged under brand names like “K2,” “Scooby Snax,” ”Spice,” and “Bizzaro,” with dangerous side effects like suicidal or erratic behavior, seizures and even death. The illegal hallucinogens also render users to be aggressive and disorderly.