Gov. Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 370, known as the Synthetic Marijuana Bill, into law on Tuesday, and it went into effect with his signature.
The law will make all types of synthetic marijuana and synthetic substances known as “bath salts”, which mimic the effects of methamphetamine, illegal to possess or sell in Georgia, said Phillip Price, commander of the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad or CMANS.
Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison said the law is long overdue.
“This legislation was desperately needed. Synthetic marijuana was becoming a dangerous substance readily available to teens. Because it was sold legally, there was an assumption that it was safe. However, it was actually a very dangerous product,” Garrison said.” Over the past year we have responded to numerous calls to the emergency room where teens have overdosed on these products leading to a variety of serious health issues.”
Previously only a few of the various types of substances were illegal in Georgia.
“In order to provide legitimate business people with the opportunity to remove the products from shelves, the CMANS will give store owners a few days to comply with this law before criminal action will commence,” Price said. “This period will be strictly to provide a chance for businesses to get the product off their shelves, not to allow them to sell down their stock.”
Once the “grace-period” ends CMANS, the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office and the Police Departments throughout the County will begin to visit stores within their areas and begin checking for compliance to the new law, Price said.
The “grace period” only applies to licensed businesses that have previously legally possessed these substances. CMANS will begin enforcement immediately for the sale of any of the prohibited substances.
“Hopefully this legislation is more comprehensive and will prevent manufacturers of these products from simply changing one or two components in the formula and making the products legal again any time in the near future,“ Garrison said.
The Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad is a joint task force working in Cherokee County to investigate drug related violations. Participating agencies include the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, the Canton Police Department, the Woodstock Police Department, the Holly Springs Police Department, the Ball Ground Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit, the Cherokee County BOE Police, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia State Patrol.
Citizens can call in tips anonymously to (770) 345- 7920, or speak to an agent by calling (770) 704-2350.