Gov. Deal signs bill to outlaw synthetic marijuana - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Gov. Deal signs bill to outlaw synthetic marijuana

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ATLANTA, GA (WRCB) -- Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation Tuesday that outlaws all forms of synthetic marijuana in the state of Georgia.

"These synthetic substances pose an enormous risk to our public safety," said Deal. "As the usage has dramatically increased, instances of violence, bodily harm and even death have risen with it. I applaud the GBI and the General Assembly for their fast work on this legislation, which addresses a pressing need."

SB 370 was named Chase's Law in memory of Chase Corbitt Burnett, a 16-year-old honor student and soccer player found dead in a hot tub at his parent's Fayette County home after smoking the substance. Burnett's family joined GBI Director Vernon Keenan, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, House Speaker Ralston and others at the bill signing.

Synthetic cannabinoids contain marijuana-like chemical compounds combined with different forms of dried vegetation. These products are sold in gas stations throughout the state and are purchased and smoked by individuals in search of a legal high.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 6,959 calls nationwide related to adverse effects associated with synthetic cannabinoid compounds in 2011. This is nearly 2.4 times the amount of calls in 2010. Doctors have determined that synthetic marijuana can cause psychosis and increase the tendency of violent behavior. 

In September of last year, a Bulloch County woman was hospitalized after her boyfriend brutally assaulted her while under the influence of synthetic marijuana.  Just this month, a 17-year-old in Washington state who was high on synthetic marijuana fatally stabbed a sleeping schoolmate because he felt "an urge to hurt someone."

Keenan and other law enforcement officials from across the state requested immediate signing of SB 370 in order to begin the crackdown on the substances.

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