Resort To Expand Salvia Ban

OCEAN CITY — Some town
officials aren’t exactly sure what K-2 is, or even what they should call it,
but they are seemingly all in agreement they don’t like that it’s available for
purchase on the Boardwalk.

The town’s long fight to
ban Salvia Divinorum became one of the stories of the summer last year. This
year, town officials are moving quickly to ban a new and similar herbal smoking
blend that has begun to proliferate in the same Boardwalk stores selling Salvia
last year, according to police officials.

In efforts to ensure
that this year’s version of the herbal hallucinogenic smoking blend becomes an
afterthought before it becomes a huge storyline, the Ocean City Police
Commission voted unanimously to task City Solicitor Guy Ayres to expand the
language in the town’s ordinance that bans salvia, to include K-2, K-3 and any
other similar product that could appear in the future.

“We did the right thing
in banning salvia last year, and I think that by expanding the language in our
ordinance to withstand the test of time and ban any new hallucinogenic product
like salvia is also the right thing to do,” said Mayor Rick Meehan. “Every year
this is going to get reinvented, and we should change the law so it covers
that.”

One of the things that
seemingly annoyed the commission more than anything was the fact that all the
samples of K-2 (also known as spice) purchased on the Boardwalk by undercover
officers were from stores found to be selling salvia last summer.

“We are going to be
writing a letter to all the shop owners and telling them that they are
essentially selling a product that the DEA has deemed to be an analog drug and
ask them to remove it from their shelves,” said Police Chief Bernadette DiPino.

DiPino also said that
her officers purchased three grams of K-2 for $60, which, according to her, is
more expensive than the street price for three grams of marijuana. K-2 is
essentially an herb or spice that is sprayed with a synthetic cannabanoid
(JWH-018) and creates a similar effect to marijuana when smoked.

“It’s basically
synthetic marijuana,” said DiPino. “The herb itself is not the problem, it’s
the synthetic cannabanoid that is sprayed on the herbs that are extremely
potent and potentially problematic.”

Councilman Doug Cymek
says that since the same stores are selling the product, the town shouldn’t be
as gracious as they were with salvia.

“I want to send a clear
message to these shops that we aren’t going to tolerate these types of products
being sold in Ocean City,” said Cymek. “I want to get in there and take the
stuff off their shelves if they don’t comply right away. I don’t want to give
them the opportunity to ship it back to their distributors.”

Last year, after the
emergency ban on salvia was set into place, police couldn’t prohibit the sale
of the devices or paraphernalia used to smoke the product, such as hookahs. “If
we change the language in the ordinance in such a way, we may be able to get
rid of the paraphernalia too,” said DiPino on Wednesday.

However, City Solicitor
Guy Ayres indicated yesterday that the town may have to create a new ordinance
that speaks specifically to the substance that they would like to ban, in order
to avoid what is referred to in constitutional law as “void for vagueness.”

“The salvia ordinance
was intended to ban salvia, and normally, if you are going to ban a substance,
you have to name the substance that you are trying to make illegal for people
to have, so, I’m not sure what they want me to do with the current ordinance,”
Ayres said.

Still, Meehan expressed
his disgust with the fact that a controversial and harmful product is being
sold on the Ocean City Boardwalk.

“There is a million
things that you can sell on that Boardwalk that make money and can make you an
honest living,” said Meehan. “If it’s the same shops as last year, we need to
send a message, change the language in the ordinance, and put a stop to this
immediately.”

 

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