Cities are joining a legal crusade to ban bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
City commissioners are poised to ban synthetic marijuana and “bath salts” at their Tuesday meeting, making Hollywood the latest Broward city to jump on the synthetic-drug-ban bandwagon.
Bath salts, touted as fake cocaine, and synthetic marijuana, sold as herbal incense, have gained popularity for recreational drug use.
As a result, poison control centers and emergency rooms nationwide have seen an uptick in calls and treatment because of the drugs’ detrimental effects.
Topping the list of adverse reactions are aggression, extreme paranoia, hostility and hallucinations.
Several Broward cities have rushed to ban the troublesome substances.
“There’s evidence that the accessibility to these products, over the counter at convenience stores and gas stations and so forth, is something that needs to be stopped,” said Commissioner Dick Blattner, who instigated the city ban. “And since other cities are passing similar legislation, we end up being an island in the sea, so to speak, if we don’t follow suit.”
Hollywood is poised to enact its ban as an emergency ordinance, requiring a one-time 2/3 vote of the commission. Violators will face a $500 fine and/or 60 days in jail.
On June 12, Sunrise was the first Broward city — the second in the state after Sweetwater — to ban synthetic marijuana. Deerfield Beach and Lauderhill quickly followed suit.
Also with synthetic pot bans in the works are Coral Springs, Davie,Fort Lauderdale, Lighthouse Point, Hallandale Beach, Pembroke Pines, Pompano Beach and Tamarac.
Lauderhill’s ban last week on bath salts made it the first Broward city to do so. Sunrise is on its way to doing the same.
Broward and Miami-Dade counties, Margate and North Lauderdale are working toward bans of both substances.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has banned the sale of the chemicals used to make both drugs. Florida is among several states that have done likewise.
In 2011, the state Legislature, banned the chemical compounds that were being marketed as “bath salts.” And this past spring, lawmakers banned 92 additional chemical compounds that state law enforcement had identified as frequently appearing in drugs being marketed as synthetic marijuana.
But manufacturers have managed to sidestep the federal and statewide bans. Almost as soon as a new law gets on the books, law enforcement officials say, chemists alter the chemical composition of the banned substance enough that it can still be legally sold.
Poison control centers nationwide dealt with 2,906 calls in 2010 related to synthetic marijuana exposure; 6,959 calls in 2011; and 1,901 calls in the first three months of 2012.
Exposure to bath salts resulted in 304 calls in 2010; 6,138 calls in 2011; and 1,007 calls in the first four months of 2012.