Synthetic Marijuana Bust in Hobbs, NM 5/16/13
CBS 7 News
It’s referred to as "spice". A synthetic drug that recently took to the streets of Hobbs, NM.
"It’s mostly our young ones doing it," said, Officer Mike Stone who sees the effects first hand.
"There have been times where it gets violent and someone would be out shooting in their backyard, then not even remember," he said, "Some people will say they're Fidel Castro or some other famous person and really believe it."
While some cities are waiting for the state to take action, leaders in Hobbs say they need to put their foot down now.
“Cities just need to make that commitment,” said Michael Stone the City Attorney.
He says without an ordinance banning synthetic drugs, it was like looking the other way.
"We as leaders have a duty," he said.
With a city ordinance the S&S Smoker Outlet was shut down. The City Attorney says they want to hit the owners where it hurts, their wallet.
"It’s like $15,000 a day in lost revenue," he said.
So how did they enforce it?
An agent with the Lea County Drug Task Force bought a bag of Mr. Pappy Potpourri from the shop. The New Mexico Public Safety Forensic Laboratory tested for the chemicals mentioned in the ordinance.
When it came back positive, the store had to close its doors.
“We can close them down for up to a year on their second offense,” Michael Stone said.
If the drug manufacturers change the chemicals in their product, then the ordinance would have change as well.
Stone says this is the city’s challenge, the ordinance was amended just two weeks ago to add yet another compound. It would be put into effect in less than two months.
"They are changing the compound just as fast as we are changing the law,” said Officer Stone, “We will just keep changing the law."
The city says if they went through a private drug testing company, which they sometimes do, it would cost them at least $700 per packet. Fortunately they say the state helps them by providing their services.
But if the store's product comes back as positive, the city will make the seller foot the bill.
The City Attorney says he hope's other cities follow suit.
More west Texas cities are saying no to synthetic drugs.
The City of Pecos just adopted an ordinance this week.
The City Attorney says they too will have to change the ordinance often just to keep it up to date.
They're working with The Department of Public Safety's testing lab as a resource.
Expect CBS 7 to be asking city leaders around the area more questions about how an ordinance can be passed for their community.