Florida lawmakers seek to join states that ban fake pot

TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers have opened a new battle in the drug war, and they're saying no more Mr. Nice Guy.

And no more K2 or Spice, for that matter.

Those are all brand names of so-called "fake pot'' or synthetic marijuana, which a Senate committee unanimously voted Tuesday to make as illegal as the real thing.

Sold by the gram in brightly colored packages in convenience stores and head shops throughout Florida, the products are often marketed as incense. But buyers use the skunky-smelling stuff to get high -- leading to thousands of frantic calls to poison-control hotlines and even trips to the emergency room. Synthetic pot can cause vertigo, severe nausea, headaches and vomiting.

The anecdotes of hospitalized teens and crafty legal drug peddlers have proved irresistible to the news media as well as tough-on-crime lawmakers throughout the nation. At least 16 states now regulate or outlaw some strains of fake pot, which the Drug Enforcement Administration has tried to ban.

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