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Utah County wants to make it illegal to get high off spice

Utah County wants to make it illegal to get high off spice



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PROVO -- The Utah County Sheriff's Office and Utah County prosecutor are working together to draft a law aimed at making it illegal to get high off spice.

The usage of spice, which is sold legally as incense, has skyrocketed across the state, and most of the customers are thought to be buying it to smoke because it contains synthetic chemicals that create a similar high to what people experience when using marijuana.

The exact language of the proposed Utah County statute is still being worked out, but it could show up on the Utah County Commission's agenda for a vote as early as next Tuesday.

Spice is sold under several brand names
Spice is sold under several brand names

"There's not a week that goes by where I don't come in contact with someone using spice or [who] admits to using spice on a regular basis," said Utah County Deputy Jay Lessley. "Our special enforcement teams that are spending time up in the canyons are seeing it on a regular basis. There is not a night that goes by that they are not seeing it as well."

In Utah County the sheriff's office didn't deal with any cases of people being high on spice last year. This year, deputies have dealt with dozens of cases -- including those of people driving while high.

Lessley says the problem is there isn't a test to check to see if people are using spice, and it's not illegal to smoke, but he hopes that soon changes.

Currently, there's a statute that makes it illegal to use chemicals such as gasoline, paint and glue to get high, and Utah County wants to expand the statute to include substances such as herbals and incense.

Lessley says specifically banning spice wouldn't solve the problem because similar products would likely soon appear to replace it.

If the proposed law passes, it would only apply to Utah County, and anyone using spice or similar products to get high would be charged with a class B misdemeanor.

Lessley says information they're getting shows spice could be five times more potent and impairing than marijuana.

E-mail: rjeppesen@ksl.com

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Randall Jeppesen

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