MADISON: Despite partisan acrimony that has meant metal detectors at Capitol doors and turmoil in legislative chambers, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers has emerged to sponsor a ban on so-called synthetic marijuana, K2 or Spice.
Assembly Bill 57 was introduced March 21 by Representative Garey Bies (R-Sturgeon Bay) and cosponsored by 20 Assembly reps and 8 state senators. Eight of the sponsors are Democrats, including 3 senators.
The bill bans both synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic stimulants. A long list of chemicals is now prohibited and classed as controlled substances under the bill.
Under the bill, a person who possesses a synthetic cannabinoid may, for a first offense, be fined up to $1,000, imprisoned for up to six months, or both. For a second or subsequent offense, the person is guilty of a Class I felony and may be fined up to $10,000, imprisoned for up to three years and six months, or both.
A person who manufactures, distributes, or delivers a synthetic cannabinoid, or who possesses a synthetic cannabinoid with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver it, is guilty of a Class H felony and subject to a fine up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to six years, or both. The bill also enables a town, city, village, or county to pass an ordinance that provides a forfeiture for a first violation of possession of a synthetic cannabinoid.
Under the bill, a person who possesses either of the stimulant substances may, for a first offense, be fined up to $5,000, imprisoned for up to one year, or both. For a second or subsequent offense, the person is guilty of a Class I felony and may be fined up to $10,000, imprisoned for up to three years and six months, or both. A person who manufactures, distributes, or delivers either of the stimulant substances, or who possesses either of the stimulant substances with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver it, is guilty of a felony, the classification of which depends on the amount of the controlled substance involved in the offense.
Because this bill creates a new crime or revises a penalty for an existing crime, the Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties may be requested to prepare a report concerning the proposed penalty and the costs or savings that are likely to result if the bill is enacted. — Text of AB 54.
The list of lawmakers sponsoring the bill is as follows. Most sponsors are Republican, a (D) notes those who are Democrats. Representatives Bies, Knilans, Kleefisch, Jorgensen (D), Bernard Schaber (D), Brooks, Kaufert, Kerkman, Mason (D) , Meyer, Mursau, Nass, Petersen, Sinicki (D), Spanbauer, Steineke, Strachota, Thiesfeldt, Wynn, Rivard and Severson; cosponsored by Senators Harsdorf, Jauch (D), Holperin (D), Lassa (D), Olsen, Schultz, Darling and Wanggaard.
Rep. Bies office indicates the bill may be scheduled for a hearing sometime in the next few months. The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Criminal Justice and Corrections which is chaired by Rep. Bies.
K2 is used by many as a legal substitute for cannabis. Many cannabis law reform activists says that prohibiting another substance is not the answer, and that if cannabis were legalized, synthetic products like it would cease to exist.