A statewide ban on "spice" and other synthetic cannabinoids moved one step closer to reality Thursday after the Utah House overwhelmingly approved HB23.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
Only three House members, all Republicans, objected to the proposed ban and the bill was largely praised on the floor.
"This sends a clear message to the citizens of this state," said the measure's sponsor, Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville,," that we are protecting their health and that we're here to protect the children and the children's health."
The ban would target synthetic cannabinoids known as Spice, Genie or K2 which originally were created for research on pain and the effects of cannabis on the brain.
The compounds recently have become a popular way for youths to get high.
The National Conference of State Legislatures said 21 states including Utah are looking to ban or modify their current codes to tackle spice.
Froerer said his bill would target 15 synthetic derivatives that fall under the Spice label and that the sale and manufacturing of the drugs would be classified as a felony. Possession of Spice for consumption would hold the same penalty as possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a class B misdemeanor.
His bill also contains an exemption for medical researchers using the synthetic cannabinoids.
HB23 passed 69-3 and now shifts to the Senate, where it is expected to move through the legislative process quickly. The bill has no time provision, meaning it would become law upon being signed by the governor.