DC aiming to crack down on sellers, suppliers of synthetic drugs

- After a summer that saw a large spike of K2 overdoses, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is looking to crack down on sellers of synthetic marijuana.

From July 14 through Sept. 23, D.C. Fire and EMS has treated or transported nearly 1,663 patients for symptoms related to the consumption of these drugs.

Since July, there have been three confirmed deaths in D.C. linked to synthetic marijuana.

The city is hoping new emergency legislation will make it more difficult for suppliers to evade law enforcement. It will broaden the existing drug classification to allow the government to more easily prosecute those producing and supplying the drugs.

“What we know about commercial establishments, and we hear this from neighborhoods throughout the city – that they believe is the convenience store, a gas station, a liquor store,” Bowser said. “One of these stores that is under the counter sell these substances, which can be very deadly and they are an extreme strain on our other responses.”

“What our officers will do if they come across somebody who is in possession or trying to sell K2, we can seize it, we can test it,” said D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham. “If it does have substances in it that are illegal, we can subsequently apply for a warrant and that is the state of affairs right now. We can't do probable cause arrests because of that nuance that not all K2 is the same.”

While emergency legislation for synthetic drugs is now on the table, Bowser and Newsham just announced a policy change for those who chose to consume marijuana publicly. An arrest will now be considered noncustodial, which means a citation will be issued instead of an arrest.

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