Pa. House votes to ban synthetic pot

    Opponents say the measure is not enough to counter drug abuse; proponents want to stamp out ‘legal way to get high.’

    In a nearly unanimous vote, the Pennsylvania House Wednesday passed a measure banning the sale of synthetic marijuana.

    The measure would ban chemically treated herbs sold as incense, which trigger highs when smoked, but also lead to health risks.

    Sponsor Jennifer Mann, a Lehigh County Democrat, says the state needs to step in and regulate the substances. “This is definitely a growing trend, as people try to find a legal way to reach some kind of high. But folks, to do nothing is not the answer,” she says.

    The one “no” vote came from Philadelphia Democrat Mark Cohen, who argues simply making drugs illegal isn’t an effective way to counter abuse.

    “We have banned marijuana, and there is a vast amount of illegal marijuana trade all around this commonwealth,” says Cohen who has led the fight to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

    The House Wednesday also passed a bill banning the sale of soda and unhealthy snacks in public schools.

    A Senate Republican spokesman says the upper chamber likely won’t vote on either bill in the final days of session action.

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