An ordinance banning synthetic drugs soon will be up for a vote in Surfside Beach.
Town Council on Monday took a first look at a draft ordinance which Surfside Beach Police Captain Arron Miller called a “good start” towards curtailing a growing problem.
The ordinance was discussed for the first time on the same day Horry County police charged eight students from Socastee High School following two incidents where synthetic marijuana was smoked on school grounds.
Councilwoman Beth Kohlmann mentioned those arrests Monday night saying it shows a growing issue facing youth in the area.
“I think we all have to agree that we have to protect these children somehow and this ordinance is a step in the right direction,” she said.
Before the council votes, the ordinance will be reviewed by the town attorneys.
The ordinance, as drafted, makes the sale, possession, transfer and manufacture of any synthetic or “alternative” drug which includes any synthetic cannabinoid, stimulant, psychedelic, depressant or hallucinogen illegal. Prescription drugs, beer, wine and liquor are all excluded.
In addition to describing specific ingredients, the would-be contraband items are defined by packaging, common names and use.
Many of the substances, Miller said, are marked as “not for human consumption” even though that’s how they are being used. The ordinance specifically addresses disclaimers like that to include items not labeled for ingestion as contraband.
Councilman Rod Smith said he likes the ordinance.
“It includes a lot of specific types of synthetic drugs,” he said. “It’s also not specific in the sense that it says ‘if these things are similar.’ I was pleased with the way its written because it gives us a lot of latitude in controlling these things.”
The draft ordinance comes about a month after Kathy LeGette told leaders about her son who uses legal, synthetic drugs sold at Up in Smoke within the town limits.
“My 24-year-old son is an addict,” she said. “Addicted to the legal poison that is being sold every day of the week at Up in Smoke. My beautiful son has waited too many mornings in the parking lot of Up in Smoke waiting for his legal dope. Through my eyes though I do not see an adult and I do not see a 24 year old man. I see my beautiful child that was so sick he didn’t even know when it was Christmas Day.”
Alex Black, manager at Up in Smoke, said if the town does take action to make the substances illegal, the store will comply.
“If what I have on the shelf is illegal, I would never carry it,” he said. “If [police] come in and say, ‘Listen, this is illegal,’ we won’t sell it.”
He said the Surfside Beach store isn’t the only place selling the spice or incense and that it’s frustrating their store is the one being talked about.
The products, which Black said are just a small sampling of items sold, are clearly labeled as incense and not for human consumption and that he can’t control how they are used after being purchase.