Natchez considers synthetic herb ban

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NATCHEZ — Natchez could be the third Mississippi city to ban the sale of synthetic herbs likened to marijuana.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen voted 4-0 Tuesday to allow City Attorney Everett Sanders to draft an ordinance prohibiting the sale of synthetic herbs advertised as incense products. Aldermen Bob Pollard and Mark Fortenbery were not present for the vote.

Alderman James “Ricky” Gray introduced the motion, which was later seconded by Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis.

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Last month, the boards of aldermen in Southaven and Horn Lake voted to prohibit the use, purchase, possession or sale of fake marijuana containing synthetic cannabinoid — a substance similar to marijuana’s active ingredient THC. Both cities expanded the ban to include synthetic methamphetamine.

According to the cities’ ordinances, any person in violation of the law will be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Gray said the synthetic herbs are commonly referred to as K2, K3, Spice or Spice Gold, and are sold here in Natchez. Gray did not disclose where the herbs are sold.

“You can take one puff and it’s like smoking a whole joint or whatever the case may be,” Gray said. “It even says on the pack it’s not for human consumption, but they’re smoking it anyway.”

Police Chief Mike Mullins echoed Gray’s concerns, saying the city should be proactive in drafting an ordinance. Mullins said the police department has yet to receive complaints stemming from synthetic herb use.

“I recommend we (enact an ordinance) as soon as we can,” Mullins said. “From what I understand, the chemicals used in the product are not listed on the product, and some of the products don’t even list a location of where they’re manufactured.”

Gray urged the city attorney’s office to review the ordinances passed in Southaven and Horn Lake, and work quickly to draft a local ban.

“It’s causing a problem here, and I can’t wait until next week to deal with this because this is an emergency,” Gray said.

Mullins said it is likely synthetic herbs will be prohibited statewide. Missouri and Arkansas both banned synthetic herbs this year, and similar bans are pending in Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.

In other business:

4Mullins announced the police department now has enough money to purchase a new police dog thanks to community donations. Donors contributed $7,947 to the NPD’s K-9 fund.

Dr. Vikram Dulam donated $6,000 to the fund last month. Other contributors are Walmart, Fred’s, Callon Petroleum, Southwest Distributors and private residents in Natchez and Vidalia.

“We’ll only spend $953 of (the police budget) to purchase the dog,” Mullins said. “The dog is ordered.”

4Mayor Jake Middleton and the aldermen named Wilson-Holder Drug Co. Business of the Month.

4Recreation Director Ralph Tedder announced recent donations made to the city’s recreation department. Exactly $6,165 has been donated to continue golf programs and tournaments, provide landscaping and address other golf course needs.

In addition, Salaam Painting donated $1,200 worth of labor to paint the North Natchez Park basketball backboards, post and court lines.