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Once the ordinance is published for the public to see, it will be illegal to buy or possess any form of synthetic marijuana in Whitley County.
“We’re not going to allow it to be sold in the county and be possessed in the county,” Whitley County Commissioner Mike Schrader said after the commissioners voted Tuesday to put the ordinance in place.
The common brand names affiliated with synthetic marijuana are K-2 or Spice, but the county’s ordinance targets all forms of synthetic marijuana.
According to the ordinance, any business that sells a synthetic marijuana product can face a civil fine of $2,500.
Any person who possesses the substance can be fined up to $1,000.
The commissioners originally planned to pass the ordinance as an emergency ordinance, which would have put it in effect within a few days of its passage.
County commissioner Don Amber said the commissioners decided there was not a need to pass the ordinance as an emergency ordinance and would instead wait the normal time for the ordinance to be enforceable.
The chemical compounds in synthetic marijuana products have been shown to have up to 10 times greater the effects on the brain than THC, the active chemical in marijuana.
Several emergency room visits have been reported in conjunction with the use of K-2 or other products because those who smoked it experienced higher blood pressure and elevated body temperature, making it potentially more hazardous than marijuana.
“Nobody dies from smoking marijuana, you never hear of it … it’s just not likely. K-2, we don’t know about,” Columbia City Det. Robert Stephenson said as he recently discussed the topic for the Columbia City Common Council.
One physician who conducted a study of K-2 and posted the results to Web MD said his heart rate went from 65 to 120 beats per minute.
The city has not taken any steps toward a ban of its own and will likely wait for state legislation.
The county’s ordinance can be enforced anywhere in the county, but only by sheriff’s deputies.