DATE: February 7, 2012
TO: Board of Supervisors
SUBJECT: DECLARING PSYCHOACTIVE SYNTHETIC STIMULANTS AND CANNABINOIDS TO BE A PUBLIC NUISANCE AND SUBJECT TO CIVIL ABATEMENT IN THE UNINCORPORATED AREA (DISTRICTS: ALL)
California’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act was recently updated to impose criminal sanctions on the sale, distribution and possession for sale of certain psychoactive synthetic stimulants and synthetic cannabinoids. These new statutes were enacted to address the unfortunate growing popularity and dangerous health risks of these drugs, commonly marketed as “bath salts” and “herbal incense” respectively.
To ensure that the County of San Diego has every available tool to combat the increasing use and dangers of these illicit products, today’s action will direct that an ordinance be drafted for the Board’s approval declaring psychoactive synthetic stimulants and synthetic cannabinoids to be a public nuisance and subject to civil abatement in the unincorporated area.
VICE CHAIRMAN COX, SHERIFF GORE AND DISTRICT ATTORNEY DUMANIS
Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to return to the Board within 60 days with a proposed ordinance declaring psychoactive synthetic stimulants and synthetic cannabinoids to be a public nuisance and subject to civil abatement in the unincorporated area.
There is no fiscal impact associated with this action.
Business Impact Statement
Advisory Board Statement
On October 9, 2011, Health and Safety Code § 11375.5 was enacted, criminalizing psychoactive synthetic stimulants commonly sold as “bath salts.” Soon thereafter, on January 1, 2012, Health and Safety Code § 11357.5 became effective, criminalizing “synthetic cannabinoids” commonly marketed as “herbal incense.” These new laws are aimed at combating the growing popularity and dangerous health risks of these so-called “designer drugs.”
Synthetic Stimulants (“Bath salts”) – “Bath Salts” products contain amphetamine-like chemicals, including mephedrone, which can have a high risk for overdose. Doctors at poison centers and emergency rooms have reported the drug can cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pain, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, delusions and suicidal thoughts. The drugs come in powder and crystal forms like traditional bath salts—hence the name. Users typically snort, inject or smoke them. The drugs are sold under names such as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” Vanilla Sky,” and “Bliss.” Poison control centers have reported a huge increase in the number of calls about exposure to bath salts. In 2010, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 303 calls; in 2011 it reported 6,072 calls.
Synthetic Cannabinoids (“Herbal Incense”) – “Herbal Incense”
products are most commonly a combustible leafy plant material that has
been sprayed with research chemicals called synthetic cannabinoids.
These products, including the popular brand names Spice and K2, are
sold at gas stations, liquor stores, convenient stores, smoke shops,
or on the Internet and sometimes have warning labels against human
consumption even though they are intended for just that use. While
synthetic cannabinoids and natural marijuana and act on the body’s
natural cannabinoid receptors, synthetic cannabinoids are not
marijuana. Research and anecdotal reports show that synthetic
cannabinoids produces dangerous symptoms not normally associated with
marijuana. Making matters worse, synthetic cannabinoids may be
combined with other toxic substances.
The State’s actions to criminalize the sale, distribution and possession for sale of these products are commendable. To further ensure that the County has all the tools available to address the increasing popularity and dangers of these illicit products, it would be useful to have an ordinance declaring psychoactive synthetic stimulants and synthetic cannabinoids to be a public nuisance and subject to civil abatement in the unincorporated area.
Linkage to the County of San Diego Strategic Plan
This request supports the Safe and Livable Communities initiative of the County of San Diego’s 2011-16 Strategic Plan. Specifically, adoption of the proposed ordinance will provide additional legal tools to combat dangerous and illicit drug use.
VICE CHAIRMAN COX