Royal Oak Passes Emergency Ordinance Banning K2/Spice
Commissioners want synthetic marijuana off the shelves in the city's gas stations and convenience stores immediately.
Royal Oak city commissioners unanimously approved an emergency ordinance Monday night prohibiting businesses in the city from selling synthetic drugs such as K2 and Spice.
The ordinance will become effective upon publication, either Wednesday or Thursday of this week, according to City Attorney Dave Gillam.
Following the lead of Macomb County, which implemented an emergency order to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana earlier Monday, Commissioner David Poulton called on his fellow commissioners to act immediately to prohibit the possession and use of, and trafficking in, synthetic drugs in Royal Oak.
"We’ve seen high profile crimes," Poulton said. "We’ve seen terrible incidences involving our youth because of a product that is sold at gas stations and many other places in Royal Oak and in other cities."
Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue told commissioners products such as K2 and Spice are marketed to appeal to teens.
"They use very colorful packaging," O'Donohue said. "There’s no doubt that it is something that young people gravitate to as something they believe is a legal alternative to marijuana."
O'Donohue explained House Bill 5709, introduced Wednesday, would require the Michigan Department of Community Health in cooperation with the State Police, to analyze the content of the herbal mixtures and create a written report of its findings. On the federal level, O'Donohue said, President Barack Obama is expected sign a bill to outlaw synthetic drugs July 4.
Poulton told commissioners "we need a bridge" until laws are passed on state and federal levels.
“I have heard there are some retailers who have said they are not going to stop selling it until it’s illegal. Well, based upon that it’s prompted me to say, 'You know what? Now is the time to take steps,'" Poulton said. "I’m not going to wait for the state to make a decision."
The Optimist Club, the Crime Prevention Council and the Royal Oak Community Coalition support the measure to ban synthetic marijuana, according to Commissioner Peggy Goodwin.
"The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports one in nine high school seniors have tried it," Goodwin said. "So I think it’s urgent."
There is some concern the ordinance will be legally challenged.
"From my perspective, they can legally challenge us all day long," Mayor Jim Ellison said. "If this ordinance helps one kid from not getting in trouble, I'm on board with it."
Under the ordinance passed Monday night, businesses that sell any synthetic drug could face a misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine of not more than $500 and/or imprisonment for not more than 90 days.
What is K2/Spice?
K2 or Spice is a dried herbal blend that is sprayed with an analgesic chemical JWH-028 or JWH-073, which creates a high often classified as similar to marijuana. However, the risks can cause erratic or psychotic behavior or death.