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
He said the state legislature is looking at possible legislation to close
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
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
“We’re doing all that we can do here,” he said.