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Victoria may outlaw synthetic marijuana

By DAVID TEWES
Dec. 14, 2010 at 6:14 a.m.


OTHER ACTIONThe city council also took steps to help find land for a new businesses park.

It voted to transfer $500,000 to the sales tax board, which will combine it with at least $1 million of its own money to buy additional land for the park.

The location of the property has not been disclosed.

It's sold everywhere from convenience stores to novelty shops in Victoria and is as readily available as Akla-Seltzer.

But the sale, possession and use of synthetic marijuana could soon be banned in the city. The city council instructed staff Tuesday to prepare an ordinance making the substance illegal.

"It has been described as a bad PCP ride," Police Chief Bruce Ure said. "It has been a factor in several teenagers committing suicide because it puts you in a severe depression."

The problem with synthetic marijuana was highlighted last week by Tim Williams, the senior pastor at Northside Baptist Church. He related a story to the council about a man showing up at the church who was acting bizarrely after using the substance.

Williams asked the council to ban synthetic marijuana, also known under such nicknames as K2 and Spice. It's a mixture of common herbs sprayed with synthetic chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana.

Council Member Denise Rangel said she wasn't that familiar with synthetic marijuana until she heard Williams' story.

"I started looking into it and did some quick research and realized that this is a potentially big problem," she said. "We might as well nip it in the bud while we can."

Ure said the substance is sold as incense, but no one burns it. He said people instead roll it and smoke it like marijuana.

He estimated it's available in 20 to 30 stores in Victoria.

"We've got a lot of our younger generation buying it and smoking it," Ure said. "You hallucinate horribly on this stuff."

The chief said he doubts the Texas Legislature will ban the substance statewide because there has been a trend among lawmakers to leave that type of legislation up to local governments.

But that means synthetic marijuana would be illegal in Victoria and not in the unincorporated areas of the county because the commissioners court generally has no ordinance making authority.

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