City leaders on both sides of Tampa Bay agree synthetic marijuana and bath salts are too dangerous and too easy to get. The St. Petersburg City Council passed a ban on synthetic drugs Thursday. The Tampa City Council is considering making the same move.
"This is a great opportunity, if we can pass this ordinance, to rid these types of drugs from our community," said Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick. "We won't get rid of it, but we'll definitely put a dent in the operation of businesses that are selling these products."
The Tampa City Council had a first reading on its synthetic drug ordinance Thursday morning, at the same time officials in St. Petersburg gave final approval to their ban on bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
"A person can be fined up to $500 or serve up to 60 days in jail if they're caught with it or are selling it," explained Reddick.
The Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office in Tampa reports an increase of clients addicted to the harmful store bought products.
"Any teenager can go down to the corner, to the convenience store, and pick up the drugs," said DACCO's Vice President of Clinical Services Sherri Kincade. "I think if it's less accessible, it will be less of a problem."
Lisa Black, 48, says she knows too well how dangerous synthetic drugs can be.
"I used it for six months and I ended up in the hospital with two heart attacks," said Black.
Black said she switched from marijuana to Spice last summer when she got in legal trouble because it was harder to detect on her court mandated drug screenings.
"Spice really did a number on me," said Black. "It kills. If it wasn't for my God, I wouldn't be here."
Black says she's been clean of all drugs, synthetic and illegal, for 10 months now. She graduated Wednesday from her DACCO rehabilitation program.
"I'm changed. I know I'm changed," said Black. "But if I could tell this to anybody, they need to take that stuff off the (streets). I don't know who created it, but anybody who makes it needs to get life."
The State banned synthetic drug products made with certain formulas last year. Chemists keep cooking up new recipes to skirt the law. Several counties have already passed local bans to strengthen the existing state law, including Pasco and Hillsborough.
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