The Nicholasville City Commission is a few steps away from enacting an ordinance that would make it tougher for businesses to sell “synthetic” drugs.
At Monday's work session, police chief Barry Waldrop passed out a draft copy of an ordinance that would “stop the possession or sale of AM cannabinoids, CP cannabinoids, JWH cannabinoids and HU cannabinoids.”
“We’ve come up with what I think is a doable ordinance, and it’s going to help us with combating the substances that are harmful if consumed and present a significant health danger that could result in hospitalization or death,” Waldrop said.
Last November, officer Billy King gave the city commission an overview of the problem and presented items the police department had purchased at Smoke N More, located at 108 Blueberry Lane.
At Monday’s workshop, Waldrop asked the commission to consider holding first reading of the ordinance.
“I’d like for (city attorney Bill Arvin) to look it over again and see what he thinks, and if everything looks good, I’d like for him to prepare an ordinance and bring it back to the next meeting for the first reading and vote,” Waldrop said.
According to the ordinance, a person is guilty of violating the trafficking if her or she “knowingly and unlawfully trafficks” the specified cannabinoids.
Likewise, a person would be guilty of possession of the aforementioned substances when he or she knowingly possesses them.
The penalty for such trafficking would be a fine of not more than $500, or imprisonment for not more than 12 months, or both, for each offense.
The penalty for possession would be a fine of not more than $250, or imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both, for each offense.
Both would be considered misdemeanors.
Under the ordinance, materials, records, vehicles related to the manufacturing or distribution of the subtances would be subject to seizure by the city of Nicholasville.
The biggest hurdle in fighting synthetic products that produce “high” effects is the fact that there is nothing illegal about the products, King said in November.
“Several years ago, there were products that came on the scene that everybody referred to as K2 and Spice,” King said. “These were marketed as herbal-type incense products that you’re supposed to use for the air around you. But everybody knew what was happening; everybody was smoking these products, and at the time, they were legal.”
King said state legislators worked to ban the products, but they left a loophole that manufacturers have deftly gotten around.
“They did that by actually naming the compounds that went into those products, and by doing so, they gave these companies an out. That out was simply for them to change the recipe,” King said.
But research, King said, has shown these products — which are sold under various names including K3, Spice, Genie and Zohi — pose a health threat.
“The marijuana-type high that the users are getting is very similar to the high that they’re receiving from the THC in marijuana,” King said. “The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration has classified it as a drug of concern.”
Other effects from ingesting these products include hallucinations, vomiting, numbness/tingling, increased respiration and blood-pressure problems, King said.
King also quoted John W. Huffman, a Clemson University professor who invented the compound JWH018, who said, “It’s like playing Russian roulette to use these drugs. We don’t know a darn thing about them for real.”
Phone calls to Smoke N More seeking comment were not immediately returned Tuesday morning.