MUSKOGEE -- K2, Spice, incense. Whatever the name, officials say synthetic drugs have been a growing issue in Muskogee over the past few years.
Last month, the Muskogee City Council took a step forward in “diminishing the supply” of synthetic drugs throughout the city by passing a synthetic drug ordinance, according to Assistant City Attorney Matthew Beese.
“We hope that this will make it more difficult to find,” Beese said.
The ordinance was passed May 28 and declared “possession, use, sale or display of synthetic cannabinoids and incense” to be a “public nuisance.”
Click here to read the full ordinance (http://bit.ly/19m7550)
Beese said synthetic drugs came to become a rising issue in 2009, but it was about seven months ago that police and city staff “took an earnest look” at the accessibility of synthetic drugs to the public.
An investigation showed at least seven businesses sold synthetic drugs in Muskogee.
While several state and federal laws prohibit the sale and purchase of certain synthetic drugs, Beese said that legislation is often ineffective.
“The problem is the laws are reactive,” Beese said. “They outlaw the chemical compound, and manufacturers change a molecule just a little so it is no longer illegal.”
Dr. Tracy Hoos, a pediatrician at Muskogee Children’s Clinic says that slight alteration has resulted in agitation, extreme anxiety, paranoia, psychosis and violent behavior.
“We come across of lot of adolescents that experience these side effects,” Hoos said. “The desired effect is calming, but that actual result is quite opposite. That is because the chemical component of these drugs can be anywhere from 10 percent to 800 times what it was intended to have.”
Hoos said two Muskogee residents have suffered long-time psychosis from using synthetic drugs.
“It doesn’t mimic marijuana as it was originally intended to,” Beese said. “The effects have become less and less predictable. Synthetic cannabinoids are likening more to PCP or a more aggressive drug.”
Right now, members of Muskogee’s Special Investigation Unit are handing out formal notices of the ordinance to local gas stations, convenient and grocery stores and businesses.
Upon the first offense, violators of the ban would be fined $100, $300 on the second offense and $500 on the third offense.
“Effectively this could be daily, but we hope to deter against the individual purchase of synthetic cannabinoids and the selling by businesses and even individuals,” Beese said.
Special Investigations Unit Lt. Andy Simmons said officers have already found five of the businesses that once sold synthetic drugs, no longer do.
“How effective this will be, only time will tell, but with the amount of complaints and medical emergencies we had seen, we needed to do something,” Simmons said. “This was the city’s best approach.”
Beese said police officers and city officials have been in talked with legislators and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and are optimistic that legislation similar to Muskogee’s ban will follow in the 2014 session.
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