The Collier County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) passed the “Collier County Illicit Synthetic Drugs Ordinance” on Jan. 8 to assist the Collier County Sheriff’s Office in their efforts to control the increasing use of illicit synthetic drugs.
Known as synthetic marijuana and a myriad of names like “Bath Salts,” “Spice” and “K2,” these substances were being sold at local service stations and convenience stores, and can be highly unpredictable, and cause hallucinations, psychotic episodes, seizures, paranoia, and tremors. Some users have died. The effects vary due to inconsistency of chemical mixtures. The substances were being marketed with packaging and affordable prices aimed at youth and young adults.
During the BCC regular meeting of Oct. 23, 2012, while considering the proposed Collier County 2013 State Legislative Priorities, the Commissioners heard public testimony as to the danger synthetic drugs are presenting, particularly to Collier County’s youth. Following the remarks from representatives of Drug Free Collier, the David Lawrence Center, and Collier County schools, the BCC voted unanimously to include banning synthetic drugs as a 2013 legislative priority and directed the County Attorney to develop an ordinance for Board consideration. This ordinance, modeled after an ordinance recently approved in Pasco County, is intended to regulate “Synthetic Cannabinoids” and “Bath Salts.”
The problem of synthetic drugs became so serious that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi issued an emergency rule Dec. 11 that is enforceable statewide outlawing 22 new synthetic drugs and designating them as Schedule I of controlled substances, making it a third-degree felony for a person to “sell, manufacture, or deliver, or possess with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver” these drugs.
“Synthetic cannabinoids have been linked to thousands of emergency department visits across the country, and a majority of those visits are by patients ages 12 to 29,” said Bondi. Her office reported that law enforcement agencies had been given 3-day grace periods from the date of the emergency rule to enforce it in their respective jurisdictions statewide.
For more information, call Legislative Affairs Coordinator Debbie Wight at 239-252-8113.