Sweetwater City Commission Approves Synthetic Marijuana Ban

Vote was unanimous in the Miami-Dade municipality

By Hank Tester and Gilma Avalos
|  Tuesday, May 22, 2012  |  Updated 9:00 AM EDT
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The Sweetwater City Commission unanimously approved an ordinance that bans fake marijuana in a vote Monday night.

The Sweetwater City Commission unanimously approved an ordinance that bans fake marijuana in a vote Monday night.

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The Sweetwater City Commission unanimously approved an ordinance that bans fake marijuana in a vote Monday night.

A second reading of the ordinance which bans loose leaf and granular incense was given at an 8 p.m. meeting.

"It gives my agency a tool that we can make sure that no youth can buy this junk, this poison, in our city and die from it," Police Chief Robert Fuguera said.

On May 7 Sweetwater, a 3-square-mile municipality in South Florida, became the first municipality in the nation to pass an ordinance that bans the sale of the so-called fake marijuana.

There have not been any reported overdoses yet in Sweetwater, Mayor Manny Maroño said.

"What we had was a lot of private school kids, we were seeing private school uniforms going in and out of the store. That alarmed us," he said. “We tried to figure out how can we just ban this particular type of incense from being sold in the city."

As it stands now, stores throughout Miami-Dade County, the state and the country are selling fake marijuana openly to anyone who is able to buy it.

The manufacturers have skirted state and federal laws banning the chemicals in earlier versions of fake marijuana by using different formulations and labeling the packets as incense and stating that they are not for human consumption.

Stores that sell fake marijuana buy individual packs for $5 and resell it for $15 to $35, making its sale a lucrative business.

"I decided to go this route because if the packets are labeled not for human consumption the manufacturers are able to skirt this ban," City Attorney Ralph Ventura, who drafted the ban, said in a statement last week. "Instead, I decided to ban the delivery vehicle currently used by fake marijuana manufacturers which addresses the problem at its root."
 
The side effects one can experience from fake marijuana include delusions, elevated blood pressure, elevated heart rate, hallucinations, heart palpitations, increased agitation, nausea, pale skin, seizures, vomiting and death, the city said.

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