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Synthetic Marijuana: "Illegal as Cocaine" in New Jersey

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It may be marketed as fake weed, but synthetic marijuana is now subject to real drug law in New Jersey.

The state’s ban on synthetic marijuana was made permanent Tuesday, as Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced it was classified as a Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance.  A temporary ban was enacted in February, but would have expired later this month without an extension.

The substance, which is sold under brand names such as K2 and Spice, is a mix of natural herbs sprayed with JWH-018, a chemical that mimics the effects of THC.  When smoked, it can induce euphoria – what many users call a “legal high.”

But as the small packets of herbs have become a national trend in youth culture, many states and municipalities have taken up laws against them.  Kansas was the first state to ban the substance in 2010, and many have followed suit, most recently New Jersey.

“These drugs have grown in popularity nationwide, despite their alarming and catastrophic side effects,” Chiesa said in a statement.  “Today they are permanently on record as being just as illegal as cocaine or heroin.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio