A sweeping ban on hundreds of synthetic drugs passed the House Friday by a vote of 117-6.

These so-called designer drugs – little packets sold legally in head shops that promise a high equivalent to synthetic marijuana and other drugs – have been a growing source of alarm for law enforcement. The Legislature banned several types of synthetic drugs last year, but manufacturers simply tweaked the chemical formula and sold the new variant legally.

A broadly bipartisan majority of the House voted in favor of the final conference committee version of the bill, which would outlaw some 250 varieties of synthetic drugs, and make it much more difficult for manufacturers to come out with new, legal versions. The bill also increases the penalty for selling these synthetic cannabinoids from a gross misdemeanor to a felony.

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