City Officials Propose Ban on Spice

If approved, the ordinance would be the first of its kind in California

The San Diego City Council will consider a law to ban the synthetic drug known as spice, which has been a growing issue city, according to officials.

If approved, the ordinance would be the first of its kind in California.

Spice is a chemical mixture sprayed on to a plant substance that users can then smoke or ingest to achieve a similar effect to marijuana.

But the drug can lead to medical emergencies such as seizures, comas and hallucinations.

Law enforcement has seen a jump in the number of emergency-room visits attributed to the drug, with several people overdosing.

Since last November to March of this year, officials say there have been 650 spice cases. Of them, 120 cases have been in Downtown San Diego.

Current laws ban certain chemical combinations used in spice but manufacturers began experimenting with chemical combinations that were not covered.

"The unpredictability of the potency, combined with the changing chemical structure with which they are made, makes it a game of Russian roulette when users decide to ingest a synthetic drug," Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said the current laws are inadequate for criminal enforcement of spice.

Last year, authorities arrested two drug dealers involved in a spice overdose.

But they say they were unable to prosecute the dealers because the drugs sold did not include the five chemical compounds prohibited by state law.

On Monday, Zimmerman warned against the use of spice and even had a warning for manufacturers who have been changing up the chemical makeup of spice to continue selling it.

“Those of you who have been exploiting this loophole, and now continue to sell this dangerous drug, you should expect enforcement action,” she said.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit the manufacture, sale, distribution and possession of spice, bath salts and other drugs that mimic the effects of marijuana.

Officials say this ordinance is unique because it allows them to hold dealers responsible if the drug has a similar chemical structure or has similar effects on the body and brain as marijuana.

Officials say the spike in cases related to spice has cost the city millions of dollars to respond to.

"I mean, you can get a sense of what we could be spending this money on if not for this foolishness. And that's why we gotta stop it," San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria said.

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