The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider taking the first step to outlaw synthetic drugs in the county.
At the request of Sheriff Ian Parkinson, supervisors will discuss introducing a new ordinance to ban the possession, distribution and sale of synthetic drugs such as bath salts, herbal incense and spice. If the ban is introduced, a public hearing will be held Feb. 2.
“Synthetic drugs are extremely dangerous and are gaining popularity at a disturbing rate, especially among our high school- and college-aged individuals,” Parkinson wrote in a staff report. “These drugs are available for purchase in stores and shops throughout the county despite the state of California and federal government’s attempts to ban such drugs.”
Synthetic drugs are chemically laced substances similar to marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine that are sold over the counter at some convenience stores, gas stations and tobacco shops.
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The state and federal governments’ attempts to prohibit synthetic drugs have not been effective because the drug manufacturers continually alter the composition of the drugs’ compounds to get around the laws, Parkinson said.
The cities of Atascadero, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo already have similar bans in place. Parkinson said the countywide ban will prevent the sale of synthetic drugs from migrating to the unincorporated areas of the county.
The ban is motivated, in part, by an automobile accident in October 2014 on Highway 1 near Cayucos in which four passengers were thrown from a vehicle. Two people, a 17-year-old boy and a 22-month-old boy, were killed.
A CHP investigation determined the driver had smoked spice, a form of synthetic marijuana that he had purchased at a smoke shop in Cambria before the accident.
If adopted, the ban would allow law enforcement to charge violators with misdemeanors or infractions punishable by fines or jail time. The ban is the first business item on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda Tuesday.