Gov. Nixon signs bill making Missouri the fifth state to criminalize sale or possession of K2

July 6, 2010
O'Fallon, MO

Missouri will become the fifth state to criminalize possession of K2 as Gov. Jay Nixon today signed a bill making it a controlled substance. K2 is a synthetic substance similar to marijuana. Beginning Aug. 28, possession of 35 grams or less of K2 will be a Class A misdemeanor, and possession of more than 35 grams will be a Class C felony. The new law carries penalties that will be identical to those for possession of marijuana.

The Governor was joined by area law enforcement officers and legislators as he signed House Bill 1472 today at the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department.

"K2 has been associated with serious health risks such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, vomiting, hallucinations, tremors and possibly seizures," Gov. Nixon said. "Most alarming is that health care providers and poison control centers are seeing increased use of K2 by children. It is unsafe and has serious potential for abuse, especially by children. Missouri is helping lead the way by taking a stand against this drug."

K2 is a mixture of dried herbs that is sprayed with a synthetic substance similar to the active ingredient in marijuana. It is often sold as incense at convenience stores, smoke shops and other retailers. Under the new law, K2 will be added to the list of controlled substances under Schedule I. Those substances are classified as having a high potential for abuse and having no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or  lacking accepted safe use in treatment under medical supervision.

Possession or sale of K2 already has been banned by local ordinance in St. Charles and Pettis counties and in several municipalities. Alabama, Kansas and Kentucky already have passed laws criminalizing its possession, and other states are considering similar bills; on July 2, the Arkansas Health Board passed an emergency rule to ban the distribution of K2. Under Missouri law, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine; a Class C felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The bill also adds certain steroids, painkillers, sedatives and nitrites (known as "poppers") to Missouri's controlled substance list to match the federal controlled substance list.

House Bill 1472 was sponsored by Rep. Ward Franz (R-West Plains) and handled in the Senate by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia).