In response to rapidly-growing community concern and a perception of slow movement by Michigan state government, the West Bloomfield Township Board voted unanimously Monday to ban the sale and possession of K-2, a synthetic marijuana known as Spice.
The emergency ordinance was drafted last week in response to the in which police believe K-2 played a role. It will make the sale or possession of K-2 a misdemeanor with penalties of $500 and/or up to 90 days in jail. Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy said the ordinance could be enforced as early as Tuesday.
The ordinance was put forth by Shaughnessy and Trustee Howard Rosenberg and met with high praise from the board on Monday. Trustee Larry Brown said that by moving quickly, the board was acting in the interest of "what (residents) expect from us."
"We’re not waiting. We’re not putting in moratoriums or anything else. We’re saying, this is it, we’re putting this ordinance into effect," Brown said.
Police Chief Michael Patton said that despite a lack of a grace period for business owners to comply, he expects to meet little resistance from the community.
"It still may be a bit of an uphill battle with some merchants, but some of those that we’ve spoken to in West Bloomfield we feel have been positive and supportive," he said.
According to Shaughnessy, West Bloomfield is the first municipality to pass such an ordinance — labeled as an "emergency" ordinance in order to override the customary waiting period of two weeks which usually follows the introduction of an ordinance.
However, West Bloomfield will almost certainly not be the last. Shelby Township municipal government, praised by Trustee Howard Rosenberg as "the first" to draft such an ordinance, is .
In Macomb Township Monday afternoon, County Executive Mark .
Oakland County Commissioner John Scott (R-5th) said that county officials would meet Thursday to discuss a similar proposal. "We'll find out what we have to do to make this (ordinance) a county-wide thing," he said.
Waterford Township trustees Anthony Bartolotta and Dave Kramer were in attendance Monday and said they hoped to pass a similar ordinance at their next meeting, also using West Bloomfield's ordinance as a guide.
"The state can't always move as quickly as local government. We need to do the same, and we have to get it done as soon as possible," Bartolotta said.
State Rep. Lisa Brown (D-39th) said that on Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee would host a special meeting to take on legislation which would allow for the emergency scheduling of a substance as a controlled substance.
“That means we don’t have to wait for the legislature to go through the whole committee process,” she said.
Brown offered her appreciation for the ordinance, after co-sponsoring House Bill No. 6226 of 2010 to ban K-2, which has come under some recent criticism as manufacturers have apparently skirted the law by replacing certain chemical compounds within the drug.
According to a fact sheet from the Michigan Department of Community Health, 224 instances of synthetic marijuana exposure were discovered in Michigan in 2011. Robin Walsh, a therapist at who treats teens addicted to the drug, says smoking K2 can cause hallucinations, seizures, vomiting, drowsiness, paranoia, tremors, loss of physical control, and higher blood pressure and heart rates.