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‘Spice’ outlawed across Alaska

By Charlo Greene Photojournalist: Jacob Curtis - 6:50 PM July 16, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

“Spice” is now illegal across the state.

Wednesday morning, Gov. Sean Parnell signed a law aimed at getting the substance out of the hands of Alaskans.

Lawmakers and law enforcement said they hope signing Senate Bill 173 into law will initiate the end of a years-long game of chase.

“It’s been like chasing smoke trying to get your hands around it,” said Anchorage Police Department Chief Mark Mew. “I think we’ve tried three different forms of law by now.”

The law addresses any person or business found in possession of any package containing blatantly misleading labeling in Alaska.

“When we can see the disconnect between the packaging and how it’s being marketed and sold, it’s a $500 fine,” Mew said.

When asked if he thought the law would make an impact on Spice users, former Spice addict “James” said: “it might, but the addiction is so strong.”

KTVA agreed to keep James’ identity hidden due to his probation, which is actually how he said his addiction to Spice began.

“It’s almost like a substitute for weed,” James said. “That’s what you think at first.”

A seizure and week-long withdrawals after months of use proved Spice was much more serious, he said.

“I went into debt almost because of it and that’s crazy to say because you can get it at the store, any smoke shop, but it’s addictive,” James said.

Though synthetic substances have been banned in the municipality for months, James said it still isn’t hard to come by.

“I know you can still get it in Anchorage from the smoke shop owners,” James said. “They still sell it underground to the people that used to get it. They still do that. I know people that get it from them.”

Whether this new statewide law will initiate the end of synthetic drug consumption or just be another move to be countered by synthetic-drug makers remains to be seen. But lawmakers and this recovering user agree it is a move in the right direction.

The $500 penalty is a civil fine, not criminal. If it’s not paid, the money will be taken out of your permanent fund dividend, according to APD.

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