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Natchez adopts fake pot ban

NATCHEZ — If you want to get a fake high from fake pot in Natchez, time’s running out.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen voted 5-0 Tuesday to enact an ordinance prohibiting the use, purchase, possession, distribution and sale of synthetic herbs likened to marijuana and advertised as incense products.

Ward 3 Alderman Bob Pollard left the board meeting early, and was not present for the vote.

Ward 2 Alderman James “Ricky” Gray first introduced the idea of drafting an ordinance at the board’s July 13 meeting.

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

“I can’t wait on this when it’s dealing with the health and welfare of this community,” Gray said Tuesday. “You can be 10 years old and buy this stuff and smoke this stuff, and it does bodily harm.”

The ordinance, developed by Interim City Attorney Chester Ray Jones — City Attorney Everett Sanders is recovering from recent surgery — prohibits synthetic herbs containing synthetic cannabinoid, a substance similar to marijuana’s active ingredient THC. The ordinance also bans other hard-to-pronounce substances and chemicals such as salviadivinorum, trifluomethylphenyl and methoxymethcathione.

Any person in violation of the ordinance will be guilty of a misdemeanor, and be punished by a fine not exceeding $1,000, a six-month county jail sentence or both.

It’s not yet determined how soon the ordinance will be effective, but Police Chief Mike Mullins said it could be at least 30 days.

“There will be a time limit for (store owners) to get the stuff off the shelves,” Mullins said. “We’ll inform everybody that it must be taken off the shelves immediately and destroyed. If not, we’ll arrest them.”

In other business:

The board unanimously approved a resolution to borrow a $650,000 tax anticipation loan from Trustmark Bank at a 2.3 percent interest rate to expire on March 15, 2011. The loan will balance the city’s 2009-2010 fiscal year budget, and is needed to cover payroll and insurance expenses through December, City Clerk Donnie Holloway said.

The board unanimously approved residents Herman and Laura Price’s request to expand their business, Herman’s Upholstery, at 808-810 Martin Luther King Jr. St. The board also unanimously approved resident Bobbie Hinson’s request to re-establish a mobile home at 14 Hunt Circle.

The Natchez Planning Commission previously approved both requests.

The board unanimously approved Tourism Director Connie Taunton’s request to place the city’s third Mississippi Blues Trail Marker at the City Auditorium on Franklin Street. The marker will commemorate the Ealey family, who has performed concerts at the location. An unveiling ceremony is set for 5 p.m. Sept. 24 at the auditorium.

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