More on K-2/Spice and “Designer” Drugs

Like you, we are deeply concerned about the impacts of synthetic drugs.  Our City Council has acted by passing a resolution calling upon the Legislature to act rapidly to pass new law prohibiting the sale and possession of these synthetic drugs.  Council’s resolution also called upon our merchants to voluntarily stop selling this type of substance.  We can’t force them to stop until we have a law to enforce. 

As you may know, each chamber of the Michigan Legislature has passed a bill to counteract these substances.  Those bills are expected to be combined this week and a final law on the Governor’s desk for his signature by Thursday taking effect on July 1st.  Although many local communities are passing ordinances the impact of local ordinances for law enforcement is minimal.  Local communities do not have the power to add any substance to the state’s Controlled Substance Act and without that local ordinance is simply not effective.  A state law is simply the most effective way to impact a problem of this size and nature.  Like many things, it seems simple but it is not.

In fact the Legislature passed law in October 2011 which was believed at that time to outlaw these substances.  The off shore manufacturers reacted immediately by changing the compounds of this stuff which is known by as K-2, Spice, bath salts, Ninja and many, many more names, making it legal once again and evading the law.  Many of the packets say “Not for Human Consumption” right on them.  The merchants argue they don’t know what is legal and what is illegal.  There was an excellent article in the Detroit Free Press yesterday,  Cayman Chemical helps law enforcement fight K2, Spice drugs | Detroit Free Press | ,which gives some insight into the complexity of recognizing these compounds in order to prohibit them.  Because of the previous reaction to the law, the Legislature proposes to give authority to public health officials to make temporary prohibitions for substances until the Legislature can react, avoiding the previous problem. The Federal government has also been playing the same cat-and-mouse game with the manufacturers in their efforts to get control of the importation problem. 

The Michigan Department of Community Health has published a helpful fact sheetK2_Spice-_General_Fact_Sheet_384278_7.

We want a law we can enforce.  But we don’t want one that can be struck down, or evaded or avoided.  As soon as the state law takes effect, I can assure you that we will act to see that prohibited substances are removed from retailers in our city. 

We continue to urge all parents and persons in contact with young people to have candid conversations about the dangers of these substances.