The sale or possession of herbal incense — “synthetic cannabinoids” available locally that go by the names “K2,” “Voodoo,” “FIYA” and “Spice” — became illegal today.

The law, HB 173, similar to new laws in other states, was authored by state Rep. Rickey Templet, R-Terrytown, sailed easily through the Louisiana Legislature and was signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal into Act 565 on June 25.

According to the law, possession or intent to distribute herbal incense will be prosecuted in the same fashion as for the use and sale of marijuana — a Schedule I narcotic — which means a potential fine of $10,000 and five years imprisonment if convicted.

The law states “It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess material, compound, mixture, or preparation which contains a prohibited plant and which is intended to be placed in the oral or nasal cavity, is prepared in such a manner as to be suitable for smoking in a pipe or cigarette, or is to be burned and inhaled or exhaled in any manner or in any form.”

The law deems illegal any of the following plants:

• Mugwort.

• Bay Bean.

• Lion’s tail and Lion’s ear.

• Honeyweed.

• Sacred Lotus, Blue Lotus, Egyptian Lotus.

• Indian Warrior.

• Salvia divinorum.

• Dwarf Skullcap.

• Damiana.

• Zornia latifolia

Baillee Collins, who works for Cupid’s Closet on U.S. 90, said between mid-November and December  herbal incense became extremely popular.

“There’s no particular demographic of people who buy it — we’ve had a wide range of customers from different career paths, ethnicities and age groups,” Collins said.

Collins began working at Cupid’s Closet in December. She originally was hired to work 20 hours per week, she said, but with the almost overnight popularity of herbal incense her hours were quickly bumped up to 40 hours per week.

“They not only gave us more hours, but they extended the store hours and even hired more people,” Collins said. “It has been a large portion of our income.”

Within the past week, Collins said the prices, which originally ranged between $25 and $50, were lowered on the incense in order to wipe out their stock of the products before the law’s effective date.

“We’re supposed to be getting something new sometime next week that is similar to herbal incense but doesn’t contain the ingredients that were made illegal,” she said. “We have documentation from the manufacturer that was approved by a lab and an attorney that confirmed it was legit.”

Lt. Ryan Turner, spokesman for the Iberia Parish Sherrif’s Office, said if the substance is discovered during the course of an investigation it will be handled accordingly.

“We’ll deal with this on a case by case basis,” Turner said. “If we get complaints of individuals selling it, we’ll try to deal with it as best as possible.”

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