One of the hottest topics of the current legislative session (other than the budget) is the race among lawmakers to be the lead author of the bill that bans "spice weed" or "mojo," a hallucinogenic herb that is becoming all the rage among teens. Mojo's base herb is harmless and perfectly legal — by itself — but when sprinkled or combined with certain other compounds or isomers, it becomes a potent hallucinogen when smoked in a pipe. It is available in many convenience stores and online, but it ain't cheap: It retails for about $20 an ounce and typically is sold in 3-ounce packets.
The herb is processed in New York and has been sold legally in every state, although Kansas recently outlawed it. Other states, Louisiana included, are now rushing to follow suit. Mojo's political back story in Baton Rouge has been not whether lawmakers would ban mojo, but which legislator would become lead author of the measure that becomes law — with full bragging rights as the one who struck down the newest incarnation of devil weed. In the House, at least six members filed bills to outlaw the substance, but state Rep. Ricky Templet, R-Gretna, prevailed as the lead author when the others agreed to unite behind his House Bill 173. That bill sailed unanimously out of the Criminal Justice Committee and appears headed for certain passage by the full House.
In the Senate, several similar bills have been sent to the Judiciary C Committee, where they await consideration. Templet's bill is first out of the gate, but that doesn't mean it will be the one that ultimately becomes law. In fact, if lawmakers approve several versions of the mojo ban, the one approved last — and signed by the governor — is the one that prevails as the final expression of legislative will. The race to be last is on. — Clancy DuBos