ALBANY -- Newly classified compounds of synthetic marijuana can be seized under an emergency ruling requested by Gov. Nathan Deal.
"While this rule provides law enforcement across Georgia with the authority to seize these new synthetic cannabinoids," Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials said in a news release Tuesday, "it does not provide for criminal penalties or arrest authority."
By adding five more substances to the list of banned drugs, the rule gives authorities a stronger weapon in enforcement, said Maj. Bill Berry, Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit commander.
"This gives us a few more ingredients to add to the list," Berry said. "We now have a little more teeth when we go in and seize the substances. We'll seize them and send them to the crime lab and make charges when the lab sorts them all out."
Criminal penalties will have to come from additional legislation passed by the General Assembly, which next meets in January. The Georgia State Board of Pharmacy classified the new synthetic marijuana with Schedule I drugs, which are dangerous and have no medical treatment use.
The drugs do result in "symptoms that include, but are not limited to, altered mental status, lethargy, short-term coma, seizures and psychosis," according to the news release.
The rule is necessary because drug manufacturers alter the formulas to bypass the present laws, GBI officials said. "Manufacturers have now begun changing the molecular structure of the drug altogether in order to circumvent the current law."