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2 Utah councils vote to ban sale, use of 'spice'

2 Utah councils vote to ban sale, use of 'spice'



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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Two northern Utah municipalities have voted to ban the sale, use and possession of spice, a blend of herbs and chemicals that produces a marijuana-like high.

Ogden's ban takes effect immediately, although the police chief said it could take a week to notify shops to take the product off their shelves.

"We are looking to get them to send it back to where they bought it from," Chief Jon Greiner told the Standard-Examiner of Ogden.

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The Cache County ordinance takes effect Sept. 29.

"I just wish we didn't have to legislate people out of stupidity," Cache County Councilman Cory Yeates said.

The Herald Journal of Logan reported that Yeates' colleagues were quick before Tuesday's vote to invoke the case of a man reportedly intoxicated on spice who fired a handgun randomly and shot a neighbor's goat four days ago.

"It's pretty sad," Council Chairman Gordon Zilles. "That's crossing the line."

Zilles added, "Better a goat than the neighbor himself."

The Ogden City Council and Cache County Council voted independently Tuesday to crack down on a product commonly made in China and Korea and sold in markets and head shops as incense.

Authorities in 13 states have outlawed the form of synthetic marijuana also known as K2, a concoction of dried herbs sprayed with chemicals.

The Standard-Examiner reported that spice was on the shelves Tuesday night at the Corner Market, a bustling Ogden convenience store near an elementary school. A manager told the newspaper that he was waiting for police to notify him to stop selling the product.

Spice is a blend of herbs and spices sprayed with the active ingredient in marijuana. Users roll it up in joints or inhale it from pipes, just like the real thing.

A violation of the Ogden or Cache County ordinance is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Randy Lythgoe, an agent with the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force, said he has encountered several teenagers who have told him they use their school lunch money to buy spice that sells from $5 to $7 a gram.

Spice can serve as a gateway to more dangerous drugs, said Matt Fairbanks, a federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Others at Ogden's city council meeting Tuesday said the ban was an overreaction.

"It takes away your freedom," said Brandon Ball, 25, a Weber State University student. "I don't see it as a public-safety issue."

Jacob Culliton, 23, a criminal justice student, said people who legally buy spice in another city may not be aware that they can't bring it to Ogden.

"Spice is far less harmful than cigarettes," Culliton said.

Taking spice has no benefits, according to Dr. Jim Davis, executive director of Utah State University's Student Health & Wellness Center.

"As a doctor, I usually look at things like medicines or even treatments in the respect of risk versus benefit," he said last month at a public hearing in Logan. "I can't find a benefit of taking spice. So I would urge the council to work by whatever means ... you can to ban the substance."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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