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Anchorage police cite retailers under 'Spice' law

Posted: January 24, 2014 - 1:04am

ANCHORAGE — Anchorage police have started to issue tickets to local gas stations and smoke shops that are caught selling a designer drug known as “Spice.”

Police have issued three $500 warning tickets as of Tuesday under a local ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly last week, the Anchorage Daily News
reported.

Businesses market the drug as incense or potpourri. Police and others, however, said an increasing number of users are getting high on the synthetic material, which also is known by other names.

Under the ordinance, labels on containers holding the drug must accurately identify the substance. Among other guidelines in the law, labels also must detail the name of the manufacturer and provide directions for use.

“This is just a piece of the puzzle,” said municipal prosecutor Cynthia Franklin, who helped write the legislation. “This is just a little ordinance designed to address a very specific part of the problem, this open-air dealing and this myth that because it can be sold and can be bought over the counter it must be safe.”

A shop or individual will be fined $500 per unit if police return and the material is still for sale, according to police Sgt. Mark Rein.

The charge is erased if the fine is paid, Franklin said. Possession of the synthetic drug is considered a minor offense, as are using, providing selling, manufacturing and distributing it.

“Nobody can go to jail under this ordinance,” Franklin said.

Spice isn’t new to the city, but changing ingredients have complicated law enforcement. The city and the state in the past outlawed what is called a “synthetic cannabinoid,” based on a specific composition.

Manufacturers shifted ingredients to sidestep the law.

Franklin spent time searching for the right language for criminalize Spice as problems with it — such as emergency room calls — increased. She said Spice is an increasing problem among soldiers and North Slope workers trying to bypass drug tests.

“It’s extremely dangerous, it’s unregulated and it’s being marketed to our young people for the profit of a greedy few and to the detriment of our entire community,” Franklin said.

___

Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.adn.com

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