Michigan Spice Ban: Communities Fight Sale Of Synthetic Marijuana As Legislators Debate Bills

After a string of high-profile crimes and tragedies involving synthetic marijuana, Michigan citizens and local government officials aren't waiting for state intervention to ban the drugs known as K2 and Spice, which are commonly sold as potpourri or incense.

On Monday, Macomb County officials signed an order that would prohibit the sale of K2 and Spice, products carried at many gas stations, with consequences including a $200 fine or up to six months in jail, according to Shelby-Utica Patch.

The designer drugs, which have been banned in other states, reportedly played a role in several recent crimes involving youth. Tucker Cipriano, the teen who allegedly beat his father to death and attacked his mother and one of his brothers with a baseball bat, is said to have earlier stolen his father's credit card to purchase Spice, according to the Detroit Free Press, and then wanted to use the drug to stop himself from having second thoughts about the attack.

Last month, a Bloomfield Township teen was found dead at a private beach after a reported overdose of K2, according to West Bloomfield Patch.

In light of the crimes and attention drawn to the dangers of the drugs and their use among teens, communities around the metro area have taken it upon themselves to stop their sale. West Bloomfield also made the sale of synthetic marijuana and bath salts a misdemeanor in an ordinance Tuesday, Patch reports, making it the first community to do so in Oakland County. Last week, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson launched an initiative to get businesses to voluntarily stop selling spice and K2, according to MLive.

The charge has also been led by citizens, like Dearborn's Steve Arnold, who resorted to picketing gas stations in the city, getting two to stop carrying the drugs.

Legislators in the state House are expected to vote this week on several bills that would make the sale of K2 illegal, as well as streamline the ban of other drugs like it that could appear in the future.

Though it seems likely that state legislation will soon trump city and county bans, civic leaders like West Bloomfield Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy have decided it's worth the time and effort to act quickly now, rather than wait for the legislature to take action.

“While we agree that federal and state legislation would be preferable to enacting a patchwork of local ordinances, we think that we can no longer wait for those legislative bodies to act while the health, safety and welfare of our young residents is being threatened,” she told West Bloomfield Patch.