Maryland lawmakers are attempting to address the rise in popularity of synthetic cannabis by creating a number of bills dedicated to the drug.
After a bill to ban synthetic cannabinoids, or artificial marijuana, failed to pass last year, Delegate Addie Eckardt, R-Dorchester, reintroduced the legislation in January as HB 188. Sen. Edward Reilly, R-Anne Arundel, cross-filed the bill in the Senate as SB 310.
A hearing in the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled for February 14.
Synthetic cannabinoids are designed to mimic the effects of marijuana, but can be purchased legally in Maryland. Lawmakers like Eckardt are concerned about potential health risks involved with the drug, which is rising in popularity among teens.
Eckardt also noted that the drug is becoming popular because it is almost undetectable in drug tests. More than a dozen Navy midshipmen were expelled for using or possessing artificial marijuana last year, according to The Washington Post.
Another bill, SB 76, would create a group to study the effects of the drug. Sen. Delores Kelley, D-Baltimore County, wrote the bill.
A ban on artificial marijuana failed to move forward last year after the House Judiciary Committee decided that not enough people were able to testify on the potential dangers of the drug, Eckardt said.
Forty states, including Virginia and Pennsylvania, have passed laws that ban or limit the use of synthetic cannabinoids, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, the drug is still legal at the federal level.