Orange jumps on 'ban' wagon

Orange jumps on 'ban' wagon

Just like nearly every other municipality in and around the area, the city of Orange has officially taken steps to outlaw the sale of substances similar to, and including, K2 and bath salts. In a unanimous decision of the newly- impaneled Orange City Council, the group decided to disallow the sale and use of those products.

Still sitting on the Texas governor’s desk is legislation that would ban the products state- wide. After a push from law enforcement and health officials, several bills were drafted for legislation this past year, most never leaving their committees. According to data on file at the Texas Legislature, bills which would have created laws pertaining to the synthetic drugs include House Bill 1548, left pending in committee, HB 2097, left pending in committee, Senate Bill 1066, left pending in committee, and HB 2118, which was sent to the Governor Rick Perry’s desk May 25. HB 2118 passed both the House and Senate unanimously.

In Orange County, municipalities have taken initiative to beat the state to outlawing the products, which officers on the street say are Public Enemy No. 1. West Orange saw the potential danger as early as the fall of 2010, when it outlawed the sale of the product. West Orange City Secretary Theresa Van Meter said officials in the city saw there was a problem with the substances and “decided to do away with them altogether.” Included in the list of banned substances was Spice or K2 (JWH-018 or JWH-073).

The City of Vidor has a similar ordinance, only their sale is restricted to persons over 21 years of age. According to the ordinance on file with the city, the purpose of the law is to “prohibit the sale or delivery of restricted smoking materials as defined herein to any individual below 21 years of age within the city limits of the City of Vidor and to prohibit the possession of restricted smoking materials by any individual below 21 years of age within the city limits of the City of Vidor. Any form of delivery to include a simple gift constitutes a violation of this article.” The Vidor ordinance also dates to the fall of 2010. Since the cities of Vidor and West Orange took actions on synthetic drugs in 2010, neither prepared for the “bath salts” wave that would flare up in 2011.

The city of Vidor only regulated “smoking material” including “any substance, however marketed, which can reasonably be converted for smoking purposes whether it is presented as incense, tobacco, herbs, spices, or any blend thereof if it includes any of the following chemicals or a comparable chemical….” Included in the list of banned chemical components were all parts of the Salvia divinorum or salvinorin A plant or extract, and various compounds of the JWH chemical, which is similar to a synthetic marijuana. “Products containing some of the above substances are currently being marketed under the following commercial names: ‘K-2,’ ‘K-2 Summit,’ ‘K-2 Sex,’ ‘Genie,’ ‘Dascents,’ ‘Zohai,’ ‘Sage,’ ‘Spice,’ ‘KO Knock-Out 2,’ ‘Spice Gold,’ ‘Spice Diamond,’ ‘Yucatan Fire,’ ‘Solar Flare,’ ‘Pep Spice,’ ‘Fire 'n' Ice,’ and ‘Salvia Divinorum.’” Even in 2010, however, it was evident to the council that the threat of new products using similar compounds was great. “It is anticipated by the council that new products will be marketed under different names but will be subject to this definition if they contain any of the chemical components set forth above,” the ordinance reads. The ordinance further states that the sale, delivery, offer or gift to persons under the age of 21 is unlawful in the city limits. The crime is punishable by a fine not to exceed the sum of $2,000 for each offense.

Not included at the time Vidor was putting some restrictions on synthetic drugs was terminology banning “bath salts” products such as synthetic amphetamine (BZP), “Legal Ecstasy” (TFMPP) or synthetic cocaine (MDPV).

Officer Mike Sanchez of the Vidor Police Department said more restrictions on the drugs are in order, and he anticipates new language being added to the draft in coming weeks to either ban the sale across the board, or to at least put regulations on the bath salts products.

The city of Pinehurst recently adopted regulations for the drugs, and their ordinance includes the K2 blends, bath salts chemicals, and any other substance “which when inhaled or otherwise ingested produce intoxication, stupefaction, giddiness, paralysis, irrational behavior or in any manner, changes, distorts, or disturbs the auditory, visual, or mental process and the product or substance has no other legitimate purpose for consumers.”

Pinehurst Police Chief Fred Hanauer said the measure was essential to the enrichment of the city, and to the quality of life of the citizens. According to him, the chemical compounds are a public nuisance, and the ingestion of said chemicals is also turning their users into problems for the community at large in the form of enhanced crime, reported mental disturbances and health-related issues including possible death. When taken into the body, these substances produce a wide range of effects on its users, Hanauer said. It is his position the abusers of these substances are no less a danger to themselves, or others, as those that use the illicit versions of the designer drugs.

The city of Orange City Council approved the first reading of their synthetic substance ordinance Tuesday, June 14, with wording making it illegal to possess, sell or ingest certain substances, and establishing penalties for violations. Orange Police Chief L.L. Martin said they have been experiencing a problem with the synthetic marijuana and cocaine-like substances, and his office recommended the ban. The Orange ordinance reads similar to that of Pinehurst, and also bans certain liquids and other forms of the drugs.