A state lawmaker says there’s growing support for a ban on a product recently blamed for the death of an Indianola teenager. The parents of the 18-year-old say he shot himself after smoking “K2” or “Spice” — a synthetic version of marijuana often sold as incense.

State Representative Mark Smith, a Democrat from Marshalltown, has tried to outlaw a similar herb called salvia for the past three years. Smith’s fellow legislators have resisted, fearing an increase in the prison population, but Smith says the sudden attention to “K2” may help his cause.

“We have two substances now, instead of one, and we have a tragedy that has occurred, unfortunately, now,” Smith says. “We’re seeing more wide-scale use of both substances, so I think the chances are better during this next legislative session.” 

Smith, who is a certified drug abuse counselor, began pressing for the ban after people reported hallucinations after using both Salvia and K2. “I don’t think that we need any more substances on the market for people to mess up their thinking with,” Smith says. 

At least 10 states have laws banning the sale of salvia. Some foreign countries, including Finland and Australia, have outlawed or placed restrictions on the substance. 

K2, the other product, is often sold in packets and the herb is coated with a chemical that some say helps the product mimic the effects of marijuana. Nearly a dozen states are considering banning K2.

Representative Smith made his comments Tuesday during an appearance on “The Exchange” on Iowa Public Radio.