JEROME - The Town Council backed away Tuesday night from a first reading of proposed Ordinance 393 to ban bath salts and its chemical analogues. Council members did not want to move to outlaw these substances without knowing why they were doing it and what the ramifications of such a law might be.
"We had an ordinance sent to us by Cottonwood," Town Manager Candace Gallagher told the council during discussion of the agenda item. She said Cottonwood is encouraging other communities to follow its lead in banning the possession, use, sale and display of certain federally controlled dangerous substances commonly referred to as bath salts, incense, window cleaner, potpourri, plant fertilizer and insect repellent.
Gallagher said Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis is also encouraging ordinances prohibiting these substances.
These substances, recently sold openly in a retail shop in Old Town Cottonwood, have reportedly been linked to serious physical effects resulting in hospitalization and death when ingested, inhaled or otherwise introduced into the human body.
Councilman Bill Phinney said he had absolutely no idea what this ordinance is about. "I have no idea what these chemicals are," he said.
Mayor Jay Kinsella said he'd like to see the State of Arizona come up with an appropriate document. "Cottonwood has really pushed for this," Kinsella said.
He said he would like for Jerome to do the same. "There is nothing good about these products," Kinsella said.
Phinney asked why a small town such as Jerome should ban something that is already banned by federal law. He said he doesn't want to pass a law that is unenforceable.
"I don't want to pass a law against anything without knowing what it is," Phinney said.
Councilman Lew Currier said the penalties with the proposed ordinance are up to $2,500 a day and up to six months in jail. "The penalties are severe on this," he said. "Cottonwood is rather Draconian on this."
Currier said that just because Cottonwood is for the ordinance doesn't impress him. "I don't doubt that this stuff is dangerous." But he agreed with other council members in saying he would like some input on the medical, legal and enforcement issues involved with these various drugs.
Phinney agreed. "What is it? Is it a law that we can enforce?"
Jerome resident Tom Pitts said the council probably should hear from an attorney on this matter. He also wondered about enforcing such a law and who ends up paying for it. "What jail do they go into," Pitts asked. "Who gets the fine?"
Pitts also asked what happens if there is a lawsuit over the ordinance. "Do we get that too?"
Kinsella asked the council who they want to hear from on the matter. "I would sponsor this again, for clarification," he said. But he said he would sponsor it again only if he understands what kind of information the council seeks.
After discussion, the council tabled action on the ordinance until staff can obtain more information on questions regarding the medical, legal and enforcement issues.
Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Article comment by:
Carl Nye - Jerome
The Jerome Town Council has made the right move here. As history shows, as soon as one specific "designer drug" is outlawed (with all the work and expense that entails) the underground chemists will immediately create a new drug that is chemically different. It has become an absurd merry-go-round of government trying to keep up making more and more things illegal, thus clogging our lawbooks and courts. This is an obvious waste of time and money. it would be much better that concerned governments and knowledgeable citizens widely broadcast the ill effects of these drugs and let the free population make their own choices about what they will use, not use, or abuse. The government is not our nanny - people still have the right to make stupid decisions, such as using 'bath salts'.