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The Las Vegas Sun is running a fascinating story about an entrepreneur who has opened a shop that sells an incredibly potent, and perfectly legal, form of synthetic marijuana.

Chemicals called JWH-073 and JWH-018 are infused into dried, smokable herbs that are marketed as Spice, Puff, Black Mamba or a number of other predictably psychedelic monikers. The Sun profiled Steve Vogt who sells the stuff out of a shop he’s named Weedz, and they’ve also tracked down the inventor of the chemical, John W. Huffman, a professor at Clemson University.

Huffman, 77, invented it in the mid-90s and is by no means an advocate of the drug’s recreational use. “It’s dangerous,” Huffman tells The Sun. “I mean, you have no idea what the long-term effects of this stuff are.”

The short-term effects, on the other hand, are pretty clear. The Sun quotes one of Vogt’s customers who left the following note: “Wow ... I was inside the matrix of hell for like 4 hrs. I have never been that high in my whole (expletive) life. It took me like six hrs. to find my hotel. I didn’t know my own (expletive) name.”

They also mention a girl who was high for an entire week after using it.

The drug has already been banned in some states, and who knows how this new press coverage will affect Nevada’s marijuana legalization movement, which has been gaining momentum.  For some, the synthetic pot could reinforce the need to legalize traditional marijuana, since it’s not as potent and has been studied extensively. Much of the drive for pot legalization initiatives across America may also fueled by projected tax revenues. California, for example, estimates that it would generate $1.4 billion annually if pot were legalized.

As far as the future of synthetic marijuana, only time will tell. The Sun interviewed both local law enforcement officials and a state assemblyman who also happens to be a 26-year veteran of the FBI. Neither had heard of the synthetic substance. Well, they’ve heard of it now.

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