Topeka — The Kansas Senate on Thursday approved a bill to ban the chemicals in the herbal mixture K2, which has been called a synthetic marijuana and is sold in a Lawrence store.
Only state Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, voted against the legislation. He accused lawmakers of “political posturing” and caving in to “hysteria for what is by and large a benign substance.”
The measure now goes to the House, which is already working on its own proposal.
The bills would put synthetic compounds called JW-018 and JW-073, which are added to K2, on the state’s list of illegal drugs.
“It’s an imitation drug, but it’s still a drug,” said state Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia. If enacted into law, possession of the chemicals would be a misdemeanor.
K2 is sold at The Sacred Journey in Lawrence, and other stores across the state, as incense. But law enforcement officials say it is being smoked to produce a marijuana-like high.
The Kansas Senate approved the K2 ban, 36-1.
State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, voted “pass.” She initially tried to send the bill back to committee for further review because she said a constituent was using K2 to alleviate symptoms from a serious illness.
Francisco said she feared a ban on the compounds would discourage scientific research on the drugs as a treatment for certain disorders.
But the Senate refused to send it back to committee. State Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, said, “There is no medicinal value to this that has been proven in research.”
In addition, Francisco said she voted “pass” because she believed that current law could prohibit the sale of synthetic cannabinoids if they are altered or mis-branded.
She said she agreed with another part of the bill that added to the state list of illegal substances two substances that have been identified by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.