The San Diego Board of Supervisors declared synthetic drugs, such as spice and bath salts, a public nuisance Tuesday morning.
The "nuisance abatement ordinance" will now be used in criminal cases of a business selling synthetic drugs.
It does not apply to possession, though, which is legal.
Board members are working with lawmakers to ban personal use of synthetic drugs.
Selling bath salts became illegal in California in October, but some convenience stores and gas stations continued to sell it, prompting a recent law enforcement crackdown.
The issue has proved an increasing problem for sailors based in San Diego. In October, about 50 sailors from the San Diego-based USS Carl Vinson were investigated for distributing or using the same synthetic drug. In addition, 10 Sailors from the USS San Francisco and three Sailors from Arco, a floating dry dock, received non-judicial punishment for using Spice.
High schools in San Diego are also struggling to educate their students on the dangers of using synthetic drugs.
"We want to bring awareness to the community because many members in the community still don't know how easily available these drugs are, and what the consequences are from one time use, which can result in death," said William Perno, co-founder of People Against Spice Sales at the board meeting Tuesday.
Bath salts contain synthetic stimulants that can cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and suicidal thoughts.