The production, trade and sale of the in-drug "Spice" will likely be illegalized from January under German narcotics laws, the country's federal drugs commissioner said in Berlin on Tuesday.
Spice is usually rolled into cigarettes and smoked like cannabis
Sabine Baetzing of the Social Democrats (SPD) said that new studies of the herbal drug had shown a synthetic material named JWH-018 was used in its production. The chemical was found to be four times stronger than THC, the natural psychoactive substance contained in cannabis.
She also said that spice contained several other unknown elements, which could be harmful when smoked.
"It has been confirmed that the fashion-drug Spice is indeed not the harmless herbal mixture its manufacturers say it is," Baetzing said. "Tests have shown that smoking the drug can cause undesirable side affects on the heart, circulation and nervous system, in some cases leading to unconsciousness. There is also a danger of addiction."
Offenders under the drug's new classification could face fines or jail terms.
Authorities in several European countries have taken a closer look at the drug since it became popular in early 2008.
The drug -- also known as "Spice Silver," "Spice Gold," "Spice Diamond," "Spice Arctic Synergy" and "Spice Yukatan Fire" -- was made illegal in Austria earlier this month.
Baetzing said the ban would take the form of a decree modifying the Controlled Substances Act. It would remain in force until parliament acts on a long-term ban, probably within the space of one year.