By Lt. John A. Overton, Community Services Division Meridian Police Department.
Recently the City of Meridian passed an ordinance making a product called “Spice” illegal. The name “spice” is only one of the many names that the product is sold under. In fact within the ordinance it lists the multiple chemical compounds that are covered regardless of what the product is called. I won’t mention all of those here except to say that just one of them is called “JWH-018: 1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl) also known as Naphthalen-1-yl-(penttlindol -3–yl) methanone”.
That is just one and the shortest chemical names for one of the active ingredients found in any of the spice type products. The products are designed to mimic the active ingredient (THC) found in marijuana and you will hear these products called synthetic marijuana. This leads to one of the most significant problems with these products. They have been marketed as incense, aromatherapy, and potpourri, but regardless of what they are called they are always sold in an unregulated market. This can lead to serious health concerns as some of these products have been found to have levels of the chemicals 25% to 100% more potent than what is found in marijuana with near fatal results. This has led to a rapid increase in emergency room visits by youth and adults who have smoked spice and not known of how serious the reactions can be and suffering from serious reactions that have very little in common with marijuana. Our police officers have been called out on numerous calls where someone has been smoking these products and is no longer able to care for themselves or are an extreme danger to themselves and others and completely out of control.
That brings us to the question about why outlaw another product and not just have better education about how bad it is. In public safety we struggle with this decision often, but it usually comes down to a couple of factors. What is the chance of abuse versus common designed use of the product. In the case of these products, they are marketed to youth and adults as a legal way to get high. There is no other use for them. The products themselves were marked in very prominent letters, “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION” but then trying to sell them for aromatherapy, which is a form of human consumption. We also have to look at continued education to parents and schools officials so they know what they are looking for with students and parents with their own children. Education is a very big part of what we want to accomplish, but just like drinking while driving and wearing your seatbelt, sometimes education is just not enough. It is illegal in 13 states, 17 countries and in the U.S. Military and now it is illegal in our community, The City of Meridian.