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October 8, 2012 (El Cajon)--At  tomorrow’s City Council meeting, the El Cajon City Council will consider the adoption of an ordinance making the sale of synthetic drugs a public nuisance in the City with the seller subject to civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each day said nuisance is in existence.

The ordinance came at the recommendation of El Cajon Police Chief Jim Redman at the August 14 City Council meeting. 

The Council voted unanimously to support Chief Redman’s request for authorization to mail letters to local retailers asking them to voluntarily decline to sell psychoactive synthetic drugs, the most common of which are known as “bath salts,” which have intoxicating effects similar to cocaine and other stimulants, and “spice,” which has intoxicating effects similar to marijuana.  Those letters were delivered to retailers on September 14.

Redman also asked the City Council to direct City staff to return with an ordinance finding that the distribution of synthetic drugs constitutes a public nuisance, and to provide for enforcement to abate such a public nuisance.  Redman and El Cajon City Manager Douglas Williford brought this request after Councilmembers Bill Wells and Gary Kendrick had previously expressed concerns with the increased availability of such synthetic drugs in the community.

Both state and federal laws make it illegal to sell, distribute or possess synthetic drugs having chemical compositions similar to those found in these types of psychoactive cannabinoids and stimulants.  However, the enforcement of these crimes against small distributors, such as convenience stores and locally-owned markets, is difficult where testing of the products could involve costly and time-consuming procedures.

This difficulty in criminal enforcement led Redman and Williford to recommend civil enforcement against store owners and others who make the drugs available to the public, as a means of reducing accessibility in the City.

The City Council, in introducing the ordinance, found that the distribution and use of psychoactive herbal incense (most commonly marketed as “Spice”) and psychoactive Bath Salts (marketed under multiple brands) appears to be reaching epidemic proportions in the United States. These products are being disingenuously marketed and sold as if they were standard bath salts and incense, whereas, in fact, they are not. Instead, they are being snorted, smoked and used intravenously.

Bath Salts are disguised with brand names that include: Blizzard, Blue Silk, Charge, Ivory Snow, Ivory Wave, Ocean Burst, Pure Ivory, Purple Wave, Snow Leopard, Stardust, Vanilla Sky, White Dove, White Knight and White Lightning. Though the name may sound harmless, bath salts are a dangerous synthetic stimulant that carry the risk of easy overdose, hallucinations and even death.

Bath Salts are a synthetic, stimulant powder product that contains amphetamine-like chemicals, including mephedrone, which may have a high risk for overdose. Because the drug is new and some of the contents unknown, using it in any way is highly dangerous.

Between January 2011 and February 2011, there were over 250 calls to U.S. poison centers related to bath salts. This is well over the 236 calls received for all of 2010. Bath Salts are a dangerous drug whose full risks and effects are still unknown.  Doctors at the Poison Control Center have reported that Bath Salts can cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pains, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions.