KAYSVILLE -- Despite the tweaking of its components, selling a different version of the synthetic marijuana product known as "spice" is still illegal, a Davis County lawmaker says.
"They think they have found a loophole," Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, said of those trying to put the product outside the reach of the law.
There is an assumption being made by those manufacturing the products and those selling them that a change in the makeup of spice makes it legal once again, he said.
But upon further review of House Bill 23, adopted by the Legislature during the 2011 session, Ray said, based on his interpretation of the law listing "analogs" as a controlled substance, the product remains illegal.
Ray, who helped put together the law prohibiting the sale of spice, concedes the change in the components of spice may make it more difficult to prosecute violators, resulting in prosecutors needing to call for more expert witness testimony.
In writing the law, chemists put language in the bill covering analogs -- the underlying drugs used in producing spice -- in the event someone changed the molecular structure of the product, he said.
At 10 a.m. Monday, Ray will hold a news conference at the state Capitol explaining the need to emphasize enforcement of the spice law and his desire to declare war on the smoke shops selling the product -- particularly those stores selling to youths.
"(The smoke shops) are in my cross-hairs," a defiant Ray said, referring to spice sellers as "cockroaches."
"We've got to turn the lights on."
Ray said he has been in contact with Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson regarding local enforcement of the state law.
"We've seen a resurgence of (the use of spice)," Richardson said.
He attributes the resurgence to the recent reformulation of the product. "The reality is, it never went away."
But, the sheriff warns, the sale and use of spice is still against the law, and law enforcement will continue to prosecute under the current state law as approved by the Legislature.
"The thing about spice is, no one knows the long-term effects of the drug," Richardson said.
Driving under the influence of spice is also a concern, as it has been known to impair the user, he said.
Davis County Health Director Lewis Garrett believes the current state law is sufficient. He said what concerns him is that there is not a lot of history regarding the use of the synthetic cannabinoids in spice.
"The Board of Health agrees this poses a hazard, particularly to young people," he said.
To reduce the accessibility of spice, Ray said he is going to propose that the state make it unlawful for anyone younger than 19 to enter a smoke shop, which is where the majority of those products are sold.