The recent death of Greenwood, Neb., teenager Billy Tucker is a startling reminder of the dangers of ingesting unknown chemicals.
Authorities attributed the 18-year-old’s death to a popular synthetically produced, commercially sold marijuana alternative.
Both Iowa and Nebraska have banned synthetic marijuana, often known as “K2.” But manufacturers get around such bans by altering the chemical makeup. The brand that Tucker purchased was formulated to be legal.
It is true that some people have safely used these synthetic recreational herbs to produce a high similar to what recreational marijuana users describe. But it is also true that doctors now worry loudly about the potential health ramifications of this largely unregulated product, from high blood pressure to seizures.
It seems appropriate for lawmakers to explore ways to recalibrate the legal bans on synthetic marijuana, perhaps by allowing state health officials to tweak the definitions bureaucratically to keep up with the manufacturers who are trying to stay a step ahead of the law.