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City Council Calls For Ban On 'Spice' After Recent Overdoses On Skid Row

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Over 50 people have been hospitalized in the past week on Skid Row, leading the Los Angeles City Council to call for a ban on a drug known as "spice."

On Friday, the City Council passed an emergency motion calling on the City Attorney's office to draft an ordinance that would ban the sale and manufacture of synthetic cannabinoids—a.k.a. "spice" or "K2." The drugs are believed to be linked to the recent outbreak of overdoses and hospitalizations in Skid Row.

"The insidiousness of this drug is the price point—$1 for two joints for an average high of six hours," LAPD Capt. Don Grahamtold the L.A. Times.

Although synthetic cannabinoids are already banned under federal and state law, enforcement can be tricky because each batch of the drug can have a different chemical makeup. (An outbreak of overdoses on Skid Row back in April was believed to be caused by a new ingredient.) Councilman Mitchell Englander, who submitted the motion with Councilman Jose Huizar, said in a statement, "The motion asks the City Council to support California State Senate Bill 1036... which expands the definition of controlled substance analog to include slight variations in synthetic marijuana, provided that the chemical makeup and intoxicating effects are similar to the already-banned formulation."

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Synthetic cannabinoids can be far more potent and dangerous than marijuana, and can lead to "loss of consciousness, paranoia, tachycardia [increased heart rate] and psychotic episodes," according to a release from Englander's office. The drug can be so potent than even the vapors can make an individual feel ill.