Hillsborough Commissioners plan to take a step forward in their efforts to ban the possession, sale and manufacture of synthetic drugs in the county when they meet Wednesday.
The County Attorney’s office has a proposed ordinance ready and is asking commissioners for their approval to set a first public hearing at 2 p.m. on Feb. 20.
“This ordinance will assist the county and municipalities to combat the rise in the sale and use of dangerous substances commonly known as synthetic drugs,” the agenda item states. It would levy a fine on anyone caught selling, manufacturing, distributing or possessing synthetic drugs in Hillsborough County.
With synthetic drugs, such as bath salts, K2 and Spice, becoming a major concern throughout Hillsborough, commissioners directed staff last summer to create a law that would help law enforcement agencies shut down the flow of the chemically created drugs within the county. While state laws already exist banning the drugs and sting operations have been held throughout Hillsborough targeting manufacturers and stores that sell synthetic drugs like Spice and K2, the county wanted to add some local muscle the fight.
The county’s reasons for wanting to do so are summed up in the proposed ordinance:
“Synthetic drugs may be more potent and dangerous than the controlled substances they are designed to mimic due to the unapproved chemicals and chemical compounds contained within them."
Ingestion of these drugs, often sold in shiny packages with cartoon characters on them to lure in young users can “produce undesired and dangerous side effects such as headaches, agitation, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, loss of consciousness, elevated blood pressure, tremors, seizures, paranoid behavior, anxiety, increase heart rate and even death,” the ordinance continues.
The proposed law carries with it a $500 fine for each “package containing a synthetic drug” for first-time offenders. Second time offenders would face $1,000 fines for each package that they sell, manufacture or possess.
This particular law would allow the county’s Consumer Protection and Code Enforcement offices to issue violation notices in addition to law enforcement officers.
Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd.
To see the full agenda, visit the county’s website.
What do you think, Lutz: Does the county need to add its muscle to the fight against synthetic drugs or are state laws sufficient? Share your thoughts in the comments section.