Saturday, October 20 , 2018, 2:58 am | Fair 55º


Carpinteria Says No To Synthetic Drug Sales Within City Limits

The city of Carpinteria took a step toward banning the sale and distribution of synthetic drugs this week, introducing an ordinance that officials hope will curtail the use of substances including “spice” and “bath salts.”

Carpinteria City Council unanimously voted Monday to introduce the ordinance that would prohibit the storage, provision, sale or distribution of synthetic drugs from any property within the city.

The ordinance wouldn’t include possession and is aimed mainly at any businesses or retail establishments that might sell synthetic drugs, which have caused concern across the country because more children are using them.

According to the ordinance, a violation would be classified as a public nuisance punishable through administrative remedies, including business license suspension or revocation.

“These drugs are extremely, extremely detrimental,” said Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Brad Welch.

Carpinteria saw its first violent experience related to synthetic drugs in 2011, Welch said, with incidents increasing over the last five years.

Although he didn’t know of any establishment in Carpinteria selling them, Welch said the department has yet to conduct a full inventory of drugs that are often hidden behind the counter.

The cities of Santa Maria, Lompoc, Atascadero and Morro Bay have adopted similar ordinances to address mounting health and safety concerns.

In the ordinance prepared by the Carpinteria City Attorney’s Office, synthetic drugs fall into two groups.

“Psychoactive bath salts” are stimulants commonly found in powder form and designed to mimic the effects of cocaine, methamphetamine or MDMA (ecstasy). Effects range from agitation and combativeness to self-destructive behavior.

The second group — “psychoactive herbal incense” or synthetic cannabinoids — are plant materials laced with various synthetic compounds, mirroring the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and sometimes marketed as synthetic marijuana or “spice” because it’s typically smoked.

In 2015, city staff said the sheriff’s department received 33 reports related to “spice” or “bath salts.”

Councilman Al Clark said asked what keeps kids from buying the drugs in other parts of the county, and Welch said the sheriff’s department is working with other jurisdictions like Santa Barbara to pass similar ordinances.

Councilman Wade Nomura wondered why synthetic drug possession wasn’t included, but staff said council could make that enforcement change.

Mayor Gregg Carty called the subject of synthetic drugs “scary,” but council ultimately decided against including possession in the ban.

Officials encouraged the sheriff’s department to use existing resources to do education and outreach related to the ordinance, which doesn’t go into effect until 30 days after it’s adopted.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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