San Jacinto has joined a growing list of cities banning the use, sale and possession of any synthetic drug.
A new city ordinance passed Thursday is designed to close loopholes in federal and state regulations, which were narrowly written to cover specific compounds and don’t cover up-and-coming versions created by street drug makers to evade the existing laws.
"A lot of the manufacturers are finding minute ways to avoid these types of bans and so our ordinance is intended to try and cover those gaps for the protection of our community and to keep our youth safe," said Assistant City Manager Mike Emberton
Synthetic drugs include “bath salts” and “spice,” which have been increasing in popularity with teens and young adults, despite high levels of dangerous and violent behavior exhibited by users.
The drugs have been linked to a number of high profile, violent incidents in recent years. Users of the drugs, which contain an amphetamine-like stimulant, have report paranoia, suicidal thoughts and psychotic episodes.
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“Synthetic drugs are a major threat to public safety and have been involved in numerous cases of bizarre behavior and deaths across the nation,” a statement from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said, announcing stepped up enforcement in coming days.
Synthetic marijuana was also banned. It is typically a chemical applied to dried plants and then marketed similar to pot, to be smoked.
A special enforcement team will conduct compliance checks of local businesses to ensure they are not selling the drugs. Emberton, the assistant city manager, said the task force will begin by issuing warnings before business owners would be subject to punishment.
Redlands passed a similar ordinance in August, Palmdale earlier this month and and dozens of other cities across the country have also added laws to regulate the new "designer" drugs.