H-LOMPOC

Nov 5, 2013 6:42 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

Lompoc City Council set to discuss fake pot ban

Some Lompoc city leaders say the use of fake pot and bath salts is a big problem in the community.

The City Council was meeting Tuesday night to vote on an ordinance that would ban the possession of synthetic drugs like K2.

California banned the sales of these types of drugs in 2011, but many cities including Lompoc do not ban people from having them.

The Lompoc Police Department says these types of drugs have been a growing problem for years, but it came to the forefront during a local murder trial that took place at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.

Timothy McNally was convicted of second degree murder last month for shooting fellow prison guard Gary Bent in a Lompoc hotel room in March 2012.

Toxicology reports show both men were under the influence of alcohol and bath salts.

Police say it's too easy for people in the community to get their hands on these drugs.

"Working in treatment and working in substance abuse treatment, this has been our biggest problem," said Chuck Madson, Coast Valley Substance Abuse Treatment Center.

Madson has seen first-hand the impact of drugs like fake pot, also known as K2, or spice and bath salts.

"It's affected every dynamic and every age group of client that we have in the program," said Madson.

The fake pot is sold as incense and has similar effects to marijuana.

Bath salts are sold as a white powder under street names like Cloud 9.

"We have seen it all the way from 12 years old to adults that come into the program," said Madson.

He says the packaging says "not for human consumption," but that's not stopping people from using it.

"I went to each smoke shop in town and I was able to buy from each smoke shop except for one that said they didn't have it in stock," said Madson.

It's a community effort to get these types of drugs banned.

"We see a lot of our youth buying this and ingesting it in various ways to get a high or to become intoxicated," said Sergeant Chuck Strange, Lompoc Police Department.

The concern for this problem is what is prompting police officials to go in front of the city council to ask for a change.

"It's our belief that there are smoke shops and stores in Lompoc that are selling both substances. They don't have it out in the open, it's more of a behind the counter item, but they are actively selling them," said Sergeant Strange.

A national survey last year showed one in nine 12th graders in America reported using fake pot.

It is the second most frequently used illegal drug among high school seniors after marijuana.

Sergeant Strange says if the city passes the ordinance, anyone caught with K2 or bath salts would be given a misdemeanor.

The city council meets Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Lompoc City Hall.

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