Chicago may be the “Second City” compared to New York (or third when stacked population-wise versus L.A.), but it is the first among the big three when it comes to banning synthetic marijuana products that have come under fire and been banned in states and cities across the U.S. 

On Tuesday, Chicago Alderman Edward Burke (D-14th Ward) and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced at a press conference that, effective December 14, the sale of all synthetic pot products – many commonly marketed as “Spice” and “K2” – will be illegal in Chicago. This measure was approved by the City Council in November. A statewide ban on synthetic pot possession (as well as sales) will go into effect on New Year’s Day.

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From this point forward any Windy City retailer caught selling Spice, K2, etc., will be fined $1,000 and lose their business license. Synthetic pot users are drawn to the cheap and readily available products, which are touted as mimicking the euphoric “high” of genuine cannabis while going undetected in urine and other drug tests geared towards discovering pot use.

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However, synthetic pot chemicals and products have become increasingly criminalized due to repeated reports of synthetic potheads, particularly habitual users, experiencing agitation, psychosis, and for those attempting to give it up, nasty withdrawal symptoms typically associated with hard narcotics. Ironically, one possible antidote to a synthetic pot psychotic episode is administering the patient actual cannabis.

The very popularity of synthetic pot underscores how logical and sane it would be for real marijuana to be legalized and regulated and sold in stores in Chicago, as it would eliminate the criminal black market element while providing the city with desperately needed revenue. Naturally the politicians, who only demonstrate a proclivity for outlawing substances, never discuss such rational options. (Chicago is so notoriously cash-strapped, they sold the rights to their parking meter profits for 75 years to a private company in 2008, resulting in a drastic rise in parking charges to residents.)