Heights ordinance bans synthetic drugs

By SHERRI KOLADE
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — The City Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance banning synthetic drugs such as “K-2,” “Spice” and similar products.

During the June 12 City Council meeting, state Sen. Glenn Anderson (D-Westland) told councilors about the state Senate’s passage of “K-2 legislation,” encompassing a package of four bills addressing the issue of synthetic drugs, the same day.

“It is something that is extremely important to get these products out of stores, out of gas stations and out of the reach of our young people,” Anderson said. “They are on their way to the governor’s desk for signature. We expect by the end of the week it will be law and it will be take immediate effect in July.”

The Michigan House also passed a package of bills banning the synthetic drugs.

“K-2” and “Spice” are considered to be synthetic cannabinoids, or any of the chemical compounds that are the active principles of marijuana. “Black Magic” is an imitation cannabis hash not composed of anything from the cannabis plant. “Hayze” is described as a potpourri herbal incense.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration made illegal the possession and sale of three of the chemicals commonly used to make “bath salts” — the synthetic stimulants mephedrone, MDPV, and methylone.

The bills in the state Senate package address reformulation of the synthetic drugs and enforcing a ban on preventing the products from hitting the shelves and slipping into the pockets of residents.

If approved by Gov. Rick Snyder, the Department of Community Health can immediately outlaw temporarily any new formulation of the synthetic drugs that are being sold and repackaged, Anderson said.

“Hopefully it will address most of the problems we have,” he said. “Of course as we know when we outlaw something, something else comes along but … our law enforcement community has been dealing with it.”

Because law enforcement cannot always quickly reinforce product bans, Anderson said the bill would enable a much quicker process for the synthetic drugs to be outlawed.

“It can be done very quickly without having to wait for the law to catch up with it and then we have a window of time for the legistlature to come back and say ‘we are going to outlaw this product too,’” Anderson said.

Councilman Tom Berry asked Anderson if buying or selling synthetic drugs will be automatically made a felony since the synthetic drugs will become a violation of state law.

Anderson said the penalties can go as steep as a $5,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

“It is pretty stiff penalties,” Anderson said. “If we need to go back I am sure we can find a way to make it as tough as possible. Initially that is where we are at right now with the law.”

Councilwoman Janet Badalow said she is glad that the state Senate came together to address the issue in a timely manner.

“I wasn’t going to have everyone hold their breath,” Badalow said to Anderson. “Thank you for proving me wrong and somebody is going to monitor this on an ongoing basis with the law enforcement community.”

Councilwoman Lisa Hicks-Clayton said the disregard some store owners have in selling the synthetic drugs to residents is alarming.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Hicks-Clayton said. “They are selling items to minors or adults it’s a risk factor and disregard for their safety. I encourage law enforcement to move full steam ahead.”

Anderson added that he encourages residents to take an extra few minutes and pay for their gas inside of gas stations or other establishments, to see if synthetic drugs are being sold there.

“If they see that product notify police after this ordinance and after state law takes effect so they know who is doing this,” Anderson said. “And I encourage people not ot patronize that business because I am certainly not.”

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)