K2 is a synthetic substance similar to marijuana. Beginning Aug. 28, possession of 35 grams or less of K2 will be a Class A misdemeanor and possession of more than 35 grams will be a Class C felony. Under Missouri law, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine; a Class C felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The Governor was joined by area law enforcement officers and legislators in West Plains as he signed House Bill 1472.
"K2 has been associated with serious health risks such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, vomiting, hallucinations, tremors and possibly seizures," said Governor Nixon. "Most alarming is that health care providers and poison control centers are seeing increased use of K2 by children. It is unsafe and has serious potential for abuse, especially by children. Missouri is leading the way by taking a stand against this drug."
K2 is a mixture of dried herbs that are sprayed with a synthetic substance similar to the active ingredient in marijuana. It is often sold as incense at convenience stores, smoke shops and other retailers. Under the new law, K2 will be added to the list of controlled substances under Schedule I. Those substances are classified as having a high potential for abuse and have no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or lack accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.
Alabama, Kansas and Kentucky have already passed laws criminalizing its possession, and on July 2 the Arkansas Health Board passed an emergency rule to ban the distribution of K2. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed the rule making it effective immediately.
The rule makes the sale of K2 -- also called Spice and several other names -- a misdemeanor in Arkansas, punishable with a fine of up to $500 and up to one month in jail. It also includes a civil penalty of up to $1,000. The emergency rule will be in effect for 120 days or until replaced by a permanent rule. Several other states are considering similar bills.
The Missouri bill adds certain steroids, painkillers, sedatives and nitrites (more commonly known as "poppers") to the controlled substance list in order to match the federal controlled substance list.