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Missouri lawmakers move closer to outlawing K2; Lake Saint Louis approves smoking ban

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 17, 2010 - The Missouri House and Senate have passed similar versions of a bill that would ban the chemical compound found in a legal marijuana substitute known as K2.

The House bill, introduced by state Rep. Ward Franz, R-West Plains, would place the synthetic compound that is purportedly sprayed on dried herbs and spices to give users a high on the state’s list of banned substances. Lawmakers are responding, in part, to concern among law enforcement officers, school officials, parents and a toxicologist at St. Louis University who recently reported a spike in young people complaining of unusual adverse effects after smoking K2.

A similar bill in the Senate, sponsored by state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, passed Thursday. The chambers still need to reconcile any differences before a final bill can go to Gov. Jay Nixon. 

Missouri would be the second state to ban K2. Kansas lawmakers passed legislation last month that makes it illegal to buy, sell or possess K2, and Gov. Mark Parkinson signed it into law last week.

The St. Charles County Council passed an emergency bill one week ago that makes it a misdemeanor to possess or sell products containing synthetic cannabinoids, known or sold under product names like K2. The bill, requested by St. Charles County Sheriff Tom Neer, goes into effect immediately, but penalties for violating the ban won't be enforced until next month.

Meanwhile, Lake Saint Louis has become the latest municipality to target a more conventional form of lighting up. The city's board of aldermen voted Monday evening to ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places. Mayor Mike Potter, who has voiced concerns about the proposed ban, still has to approve the measure. It would go into effect six months after being approved.

Lake Saint Louis would become the first city in St. Charles County to pass such a smoking ban. It would join cities like Clayton, Ballwin and Kirkwood, as well as St. Louis and St. Louis County, whose bans go into effect in 2011.

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