West Bloomfield on Monday became the first local government to implement a ban on the synthetic marijuana — known as K-2 or Spice — in the wake of recent tragedies, including the apparent deadly overdose of a Bloomfield Township teen.
The unanimously voted to make the substance, which is sold legally — for now — a misdemeanor crime to possess or sell within township borders. Those found guilty of violating the ban face a penalties of $500 and/or up to 90 days in jail. Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy said the ordinance could be enforced as early as today.
“We requested this ordinance be drafted after the overdose death of a Bloomfield Township teenager over the Memorial Day weekend,” wrote Shaughnessy and Trustee Howard Rosenberg in a June 1 memo to the board.
The clerk called for an emergency ordinance following the May 26 death of Oliver Smith, 18, from what Bloomfield Township police said was an apparent overdose of the drug. His body was discovered by a fisherman on a private beach along Wing Lake, near the corner of Walnut Lake and Franklin roads. It was the latest in a string of disturbing crimes involving the use of drug in Oakland County, including high-profile murder cases in Farmington Hills and .
As a result, county officials announced last week that they would issue window decals to businesses that pledge not to sell synthetic drugs.
Others To Follow Suit
Also at the meeting were Waterford Township trustees Anthony Bartolotta and Dave Kramer. They said they hoped to pass a similar ordinance at their next meeting, using West Bloomfield's ordinance as a guide. Also Monday, Macomb County Executive , and Shelby Township is , and
There is movement for bans at the state and federal levels as well. State Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, is co-sponsor of a bill that provides the Director of Community Health the ability to notify the administrator of the Board of Pharmacy that it should meet to temporarily ban a substance that DCH has determined can cause imminent danger to a person’s health. It would temporarily classify the synthetic drugs as a controlled substance, which then helps law enforcement combat legal loopholes should different chemical variations of K-2 begin to enter the market, Pappageorge said in a letter to constituents.
Another bill that would make the sale of K-2 a misdemeanor crime punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or 93 days in jail. Both proposals have been referred to the State House, which could take on the issue as early as this week.
State Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield) said that the House Judiciary Committee would host a special meeting today on the legislation.
“That means we don’t have to wait for the legislature to go through the whole committee process,” she said.
Brown offered her appreciation for the ordinance, after co-sponsoring House Bill No. 6226 of 2010 to ban K-2. The 2010 ban has come under some recent criticism as K-2 manufacturers have apparently skirted the law by replacing certain chemical compounds.
Shaughnessy said she is aware of the pending legislation, but reiterated the need for urgency.
“While we agree that federal and state legislation would be preferable to enacting a patchwork of local ordinances, we think that we can no longer wait for those legislative bodies to act while the health, safety and welfare of our young residents is being threatened,” she said.
According to a fact sheet from the Michigan Department of Community Health, 224 instances of synthetic marijuana exposure were discovered in Michigan in 2011. Robin Walsh, a therapist at who treats teens addicted to the drug, says smoking K2 can cause hallucinations, seizures, vomiting, drowsiness, paranoia, tremors, loss of physical control, and higher blood pressure and heart rates.
Smith, who attended , was honored at a funeral service last Thursday at