Despite Ban, Synthetic Marijuana Cases on the Rise


The number of synthetic marijuana seizures has doubled since it was banned last year.

Synthetic marijuana, including those labeled as K2 or Spice, began showing up at head shops and gas stations in the state about three years ago. It’s a mixture of herbs sprayed with chemicals that produce a marijuana-like high when smoked. Dave Spakowicz is a Director of Field Operations with the Department of Criminal Investigation. He says it’s a dangerous product, as “it creates anxiety, elevated blood pressure increased heart rate; it can produce hallucinations, vomiting. It’s untested on the human body.”

Soon after its introduction individual cities and counties began banning the stuff. Then, last summer, the state passed Act 31, which banned synthetic pot statewide.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

After the legislature acted, police began finding more of it on the streets. In 2011, the year it was banned, there were 72 cases. But so far this year there have been 156 cases. Spakowicz says that’s probably because police know what to look for. “There’s been an increase in the seizures of the drug now that everybody is aware that it is illegal in the state of Wisconsin.”

Spakowicz says he’s confident that an accompanying federal ban on the chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana will make the drug more obscure.

Penalties for possession of synthetic marijuana in Wisconsin are similar to other controlled substances with the first offense resulting in a misdemeanor charge.