The production, sale and possession of the herbal mixture will be illegal starting Thursday, the Health Ministry said after successfully activating a rapid inclusion of Spice in the list of banned substances in Germany.
An analysis of the mixture showed it contained a form of a synthetic cannabinoid which works in a similar way to cannabis, but lasts for longer and is felt much more strongly.
“Spice is not harmless, it has to be taken out of circulation quickly,” Health Minister Ulla Schmidt said.
Federal drug policy coordinator Sabine Bätzing said: “The proof has been provided, that the producers of this spice mixture have deliberately added an intoxicating substance and that the sale of the resulting product as harmless incense is clearly a swindle.”
She said smoking Spice was highly risky because apart from anything else, the concentration of the active substance was inconsistent and said she was confident that demand would drop once it had been banned.
Spice has been sold in headshops across Germany, advertised as incense, but with a subtext of knowing that people will smoke it. Consumers have reported hallucinations and euphoria but also fear, nausea and mood swings.
The ban will run for a year and is then intended to be replaced with a lasting law.