City avoiding synthetic drug ‘shell game’

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Friendswood City Council this month unanimously passed another ordinance prohibiting the sale and possession of synthetic drugs.

Synthetic drugs are chemically laced substances – similar to marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines – sometimes sold over the counter at convenience stores, gas stations and tobacco shops. Packaging states the products are not for human consumption, but this is usually inconsistent with their design, labeling and marketing.

Though bans have been enacted on specific formulas, drug makers have been side stepping regulations by changing or replacing ingredients in a formula not yet known to authorities.

Friendswood had, in fact, passed a prior ordinance, be it was rescinded it when the state created similar legislation, Police Chief Bob Weiners said.

“What we have found over time is the state has not been able to pass any legislation that’s enforceable,” he told the council. “The reason for that is the definition of synthetics had been very specific to chemical content, and there’s a shell game as far as is the naming ingredients different on the wrapper or the packing? And in some cases, they are actually altering the compound.”

The measure is taken in light of his department seeing what Weiners calls a resurgence in synthetics.

“It’s a problem nationwide,” he said, mentioning a recent documentary on the problem highlighting a dealer from none other than Houston.

“Unfortunately, (Houston) has the distinction of being the pill capitol and synthetic capitol of the region,” he said.

Synthetic drugs carry the same penalties as their companion drugs, Weiners said. Possession of synthetic marijauna, for example, carries the same penalty as possession of marijuana.

One such synthetic drug is “bath salts,” sold as crystalline powder in a small bag with names such as Ivory Wave, Blow, Red Dove, Vanilla Sky, Aura, Zeus 2, Zoom, Bliss, Blue Silk, White Lightning, Ocean, Charge, White Dove and others.

Another example is herbal incense, sold under the names Spice, K2 and Mojo.

Marked as “not for human consumption,” these products contain chemicals with unknown toxicity.

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