PHOENIX - Governor Jan Brewer has signed into law a bill that makes an herb used for getting high illegal in Arizona.
House Bill 2167, sponsored by Rep. Amanda Reeve (R) and Rep. Matt Heinz (D), makes it illegal to sell, distribute or use Spice. Anyone caught with the synthetic marijuana will face felony charges.
"We aligned it with Prop 200, the 1-2-3 strikes you're out law that was passed, this way on the third offense there will be a prison sentence," said Rep. Heinz of Tucson.
The bill carried an emergency clause, meaning once it was signed by the governor, it became a law.
Smoke shops will have to take Spice, or K2, off their shelves or face criminal charges.
For Debbie Seven, the law comes too late.
"If this law was passed eight months ago he would be here," said Seven, who lost her grandson in September 2010 after smoking Spice.
Nineteen-year-old Stephen Valdez had stopped smoking marijuana. When he and his friends visited a smoke shop for cigarettes, Seven said they were told to try Spice.
"The people that worked there were kind of pushing it, this was 'Wow, cool you oughta try it,'" Seven said.
Stephen was hanging out with friends and had just smoked Spice when they began to arm wrestle with each other.
It was about 2:30 a.m.
"All of a sudden Stephen let out a yell and fell back," Seven said.
Stephen's friends carried him into his home where his mother, who is a paramedic, awoke.
Seven cried as she described how her daughter tried hard to revive Stephen. "He looked up at her but she couldn't save her own son."
Stephen was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
"His father called and told me they just 'called' Stephen, meaning he died, and I said 'This can't be ... how?'"
A day later Stephen's friends confessed to the family they had smoked Spice just before Stephen collapsed.
"That's some evil garbage and kids don't know it," cried Seven. "Parents need to snoopervise, look for it, find it and get rid of it, before someone else dies."
Seven was happy to see House Bill 2167 become a law. She wrote Representative Amanda Reeve to tell her story
"Stephen didn't want to die, he was just having fun with friends like most kids," Seven said.
Stephen's mother was still too distraught for an interview with us, but Seven is hoping her grandson's death will teach others how dangerous Spice can be.
"People need to know our boy died. If this will save just one family from going through what we're going through, it is worth it," Seven said.
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