Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Commissioners vote to ban synthetic marijuana sales

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The county is on its way to blocking the sale of products that contain synthetically-made cannabinoids, which has similar effects as THC or the active chemical contained in marijuana.

All three Porter County commissioners voted in favor of an ordinance that would ban the sale and use of the products carrying the substance known as JWH-018 after giving a first reading of the ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting. The ban was requested by Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel who said there is a loophole in state statute that allows the substance to be sold.

Gensel said that prosecuting officers all over the state are trying to place a ban on the synthetic THC as it has increasingly become a problem. He said other counties in the state have passed ordinances drafted with almost the same language.

He said the state legislature is looking at possible legislation to close the loophole.

The commissioners will need to vote again at a second reading scheduled for their next meeting on Sept. 21. If the ordinance is approved then, the ban would go into effect immediately on passage.

Porter County attorney Gwen Rinkenberger said that county has the power to fine violators up to $2,500 and could file an injunction in court prohibiting a business from selling it. The county, however, does not have the power to institute jail sentences on violators.

JWH-018 products are typically sold in smoke shops and gas station convenience stores. A few examples are P.E.P. Pourri, Lover’s Blend, K2, Black Mamba, Gonjah and Spice.

Rinkenberger said the county had received 23 e-mails addressing the ban from teachers, law enforcement, therapists, and members of the substance abuse council, all in support of the ban since it was advertised this past weekend in local newspapers.

“The interest and support in this is unbelievable. It’s amazing,” she said. “There was not one (response) opposing it.”

Gensel said he hopes the municipalities in the county like Portage and Valpapraiso will follow suit by banning their shops from carrying the products.

Porter County Commissioner Robert Harper, D-Center, said he hopes to see the state legislature pass a statewide ordinance to ban the substance, saying that the county’s ban is only “a short term solution fix to a major problem.”

“We’re doing all that we can do here,” he said.

 

Posted 9/8/2010

 

 

 

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