CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (CN) – A vendor of intoxicating incense and bath salts claims that state and city laws that ban the sale of synthetic cannabis are unconstitutional. He claims that neither law lists or defines the chemicals “used to produce the ‘synthetic cannabis’ the statute seeks to outlaw.'”
In two pro se federal complaints, Rodger Seratt says the laws enacted by Missouri and the City of Marion, Ill., are unconstitutionally vague.
Seratt sells products known as K2, Spice and Bathsalts, which would be banned by the laws.
“The statute does not define, nor does it provide a list of the chemicals which are used to produce the ‘synthetic cannabis’ the statute seeks to outlaw,” Seratt says in his federal complaint against Missouri.
“The statute’s failure to list the chemical agents contained in the ‘synthetic cannabis’ referenced within the statute, allows for law enforcement to identify virtually any product as ‘synthetic cannabis,’ if the compound has a similar chemical structure to that of tetrahydro cannabis (also known as ‘THC’), and to bring charges against any person who may be in possession of, distributing, selling, and/or manufacturing any such compound.
“The statute is so vague and uncertain that it fails to afford fair warning to would be violators of what is unlawful.”
Seratt claims the laws unfairly target his products.
“Under the statute, because the effects of the improper use of such compounds as gasoline, Pam (cooking spray), and glue, these could become unlawful under the statute,” the complaint states. “The products distributed and sold by the petitioner clearly are construed as banned by the statute although the products have no unlawful chemical agents in them. Like gasoline, Pam, glue and paint, the K2, Spice and Bathsalt products sold by petition have an ingredient that, when used inappropriately, can produce the mind-altering effects which would bring it within the statute’s reach. But, as with gasoline, glue, paint and Pam, not every agent that produces a mind-altering state when abused can be regulated by the state when it is sold for its intended use.”
Seratt says his products contain warning labels stating that they are not for human consumption, but are to be used as incense and bath salts.
“If the statute required that retailers sell the product to individuals over 21 years of age, such as alcoholic beverages and cigarettes are subject, the statute could pass muster,” the complaint states. “But, the statute does not issue such a regulation. Rather, the statute forbids the distribution, sale and possession of the legal compounds contained in the products and, therefore, overreaches and takes regulatory process too far.”
Lawmakers in Missouri and Illinois have focused on banning products such as K2, Spice and Bathsalts after several people died from overdoses while abusing the products.