A proposed Pinellas County ordinance attempts a new approach to stem the steady stream of synthetic drugs.
Its novelty is confirmed by local marijuana legalization proponent Randy Heine.
"Only in Pinellas County," Heine told FOX 13 News. "I am on every link to every state in the United States regarding drug paraphernalia ordinances—nothing like this has ever shown up."
Tim Burns of the county's Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs agrees.
"We examined ordinances from a bunch of different counties from all around the country, looked at other statutes around the country, and the thing we were seeing was a huge miss on anything that's emerging" Burns said.
Burns explained the riddle: if the state or federal drug agencies ban a specific synthetic drug, manufacturers simply change one of the ingredients and launch a "new" product.
"We're constantly chasing an issue that we can see coming," Burns complained. "There's this game being played where new things emerge."
So to deal with that, the proposed ordinance creates a new drug classification called "substance of significant concern." It also creates a "substance of significant concern board" that would oversee testing of new products and be empowered to outlaw their sale.
A key factor would be whether the new product includes ingredients already banned by federal or state law.
"It's broad, but it requires significant evidence," Burns said. "It requires evidence that it's causing abuse and harm in a community."
Heine thinks law enforcement itself exacerbated the problems with synthetic drugs by banning K2, one of the original synthetic marijuana products.
"The Chinese created new chemicals that are not synthetic pot," Heines said. "They're mind altering drugs. I see the people come in, there's nothing behind their eyes, the people that use it." His solution: "Marijuana needs to be legalized, not banning all of this stuff."
Passage of the new ordinance is more probable than the local legalization of marijuana. Pinellas County commissioners will discuss the new approach next Tuesday.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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