Synthetic drug bans move in Tampa and St. Pete

04/04/13 Janelle Irwin & Seán Kinane
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St. Petersburg City Council members unanimously passed an ordinance Thursday that would ban the sale, use or possession of synthetic drugs. The ordinance builds on loose state regulations that make it easy for manufacturers to find loopholes in Florida law.

The ordinance includes synthetic cannabinoids or fake pot. It also includes what is commonly referred to as bath salts. St. Pete City Council member Steve Kornell is a social worker who helps high school kids.

“I have kids whose lives are, just, impaired for the rest of their lives because of this garbage.”

Meanwhile Thursday, across the Bay, the Tampa City Council also passed on first reading an ordinance banning synthetic drugs that's compatible with an ordinance in Hillsborough County. Council member Frank Reddick echoed criticism that synthetic drugs are dangerous.

“This is a serious problem and just the other day, to read on the news where a store owner was arrested, I think it was in St. Pete, and they showed how much he had in one store. It was a humongous amount that were laid out from the police report and they had all this stuff where they had to spread it out on the table.”

Two people from the public spoke in favor of the ordinance. Kurt Donley said synthetic drugs sometimes have little long-term effects on some people, but cause lasting defects in others.

“I’ve interviewed somebody who worked in a manufacturing spot for one of these. Basically they just put some plant matter in a bin and some guy with a paint sprayer sprays this crap on there so it can be globbed in one spot and none in another and this plant matter could be moldy – they couldn’t care less.”

The ordinance was drafted at the beckoning of Mayor Bill Foster and the St. Petersburg Police Department. They say it will make enforcement of Florida laws easier because it is often hard to tell which substances are prohibited under state provisions.

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