The Iowa House and Senate are deadlocked over legislation that would ban a synthetic version of marijuana known as K-2. House Republicans are demanding tougher penalties for selling the product than some Senate Democrats will support. The stalemate is upsetting to the family of an 18-year-old from Indianola who committed suicide after smoking K-2. David Rozga’s death last June immediately turned his mother, Jan, and father, Mike, into crusaders.
“We actually gave our first talk, so to speak, at David’s funeral,” Mike Roga says. “We had the opportunity to talk to probably upwards of a thousand people, including young people that were there, and we didn’t want to miss that opportunity.” The Rozgas met with officials in the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy a week later. Within a month, they’d convinced the Iowa Board of Pharmacy to temporarily ban K-2, which is also known as Spice.
Rozga says he was told legislators would quickly adopt a permanent ban, but that appears to be in limbo just as Rozga prepares to go to Washington next week to testify in favor of a federal law that would ban K-2. “I’m embarrassed, quite frankly, to go there and have to report to the senators that serve on that committee that we are not even able to come to terms with the proper legislation in my own home state,” Rozga says. The Iowa House — both Republicans and Democrats — approved a bill that would establish a prison term of up to 10 years for those caught selling or possessing K-2.
Some Democrats in the Senate say that’s too tough and will add more prisoners to an already over-crowded state prison system. Rozga says those legislators are underestimating the dangers of K-2. “Don’t get me wrong. I understand there’s a cost associated with incarcerating somebody,” Rozga says. “But what price has my family paid?” Until the Pharmacy Board’s temporary ban, K-2 was widely sold as incense.