Governor Maggie Hassan signed a bill this morning prohibiting the sale, use or possession of synthetic drugs. The bill is part of a larger effort to combat New Hampshire’s substance abuse problem.
The bill is aimed specifically at “spice,” a synthetic marijuana often sold over the counter at convenience stores. Attorney General Joseph Foster said the goal was to pressure businesses to stop carrying the product. Businesses caught selling spice now risk losing their beer, wine, food and lottery ticket licenses.
"The owners of these establishments must make a business decision," said Foster, "do I want to make my money selling spice, or do I want to make my money selling lawful products? I'm confident most will make the right decision."
The law will also allow the Commissioner of Health and Human Services to add newly formulated synthetic drugs to the list of controlled substances sooner than the federal government can add them. And it lets the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug abuse recommend education programs on the dangers of the drug for schools, businesses and families. It is young people, Governor Hassan reiterated, who are most susceptible to the purchase and use of this drug, and in need of education.
If a synthetic drug is on a shelf in a local convenience store that your parents go to regularly," said Hassan, "it must seem to kids that that's just okay. And we want to make sure that they understand what the dangers of these synthetic substances are."
It’s just one of many efforts to address substance abuse in New Hampshire, including a greater emphasis on treatment and education.