A total of 138 businesses in El Cajon will receive warning letters from police Friday urging shop owners to voluntarily stop selling synthetic drugs in the East County community.
The El Cajon Police Department along with Communities Against Substance Abuse (CASA) and the Neighborhood Market Association will deliver the letters to El Cajon businesses asking them to stop selling the psychoactive drugs known as “Spice” – a synthetic marijuana -- and “Bath Salts,” a powdery stimulant.
According to the City of El Cajon, the written request from police comes at a time when the sale of synthetic drugs in the U.S. is reaching epidemic proportions.
The drugs are marketed and sold as if they were standard bath salts and incense. They are then snorted, smoked and used intravenously.
A release from the City of El Cajon said Bath Salts are disguised with brand names including Blizzard, Blue Silk, Charge, Vanilla Sky and White Lightning. The stimulant powder drug contains amphetamine-like chemicals.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), Bath Salts are known to cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pains, agitation, hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, seizures, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.
Spice causes severe agitation and anxiety, nausea, muscle spasms, high blood pressure and intense psychotic episodes, according to the AAPCC.
The City of El Cajon reports that there have been six documented incidents involving synthetic drugs in the community over the past year. Each case required hospitalization.
For now, the letter to local businesses is meant to serve as a warning. But down the road, there could be consequences for shop owners who continue to sell the drugs.
"The risk of selling these drugs after [business owners] have been warned is that they could face a misdemeanor violation, have all the drugs in their store confiscated and it could escalate from there, depending on the circumstances," CASA's Dana Stevens told NBC 7 San Diego.
Meanwhile, the El Cajon City Council recently approved a request by El Cajon Police Chief Jim Redman and city manager Doug Willford to draft an ordinance that will eventually make the distribution of synthetic drugs in El Cajon a public nuisance.