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  Posted on: Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Houston City Council Bans Synthetic Marijuana
Source: Houston Public Media

Synthetic marijuana is now illegal in the city of Houston.

The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday — and without discussion — to prohibit the possession, sale, manufacture and distribution of synthetic drugs.

The ordinance defines synthetic drugs as any herbal or plant material that contains synthetic chemicals that have no legitimate relation to the use of the product.

“It is a combustible organic product, but it is soaked in a combination of chemicals that can have permanent neurological damage and immediate, and I want to repeat that, immediate psychological effects,” Mayor Annise Parker said.

City Attorney David Feldman presented the proposed ordinance to the Quality of Life committee last month. He said the drug is predominantly used by high school students.

Until now, many synthetic drugs could be sold legally in Houston because state law refers only to certain chemicals used in some of them and manufacturers constantly come up with new chemical structures. The city’s ordinance ensures there are no such loopholes.

“If it’s held out to be one substance, and it’s usually held out to be potpourri or incense, and it contains any other ingredient not related to that substance, then it’s unlawful,” Feldman said.

The ordinance also targets deceptive marketing of the product. Oftentimes, synthetic marijuana pouches are labeled, “Not for human consumption,” even though that is exactly what the intention is.

And thirdly, all packages of herbal incense are required to list all of its ingredients.

The ordinance went into effect immediately after the mayor signed it Wednesday.

Houston joins several other Texas cities, including Dallas, Pearland and Pasadena in banning synthetic drugs

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