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City Councils in Batavia, St. Charles Ban Synthetic Drugs

Ordinances preventing the sale, use and possession of various artificial drugs were approved unanimously by both councils Monday night. Officials in each city cited various health risks and local police reports in their decision to recommend a ban.

Like it or not, synthetic drugs found their way into the Tri Cities.

But city officials have found a way to keep them out.

The Batavia and St. Charles city councils on Monday night each approved an ordinance banning synthetic drugs in their respective towns. The ordinances prevent the sale, use and possession of various artificial drugs.

Each council approved their ban by a large margin. Batavia's vote was 12-0, with aldermen Eldon Frydendall and Susan Stark absent from the meeting at .

Synthetic drugs mimic the effects of actual drugs like marijuana, but sometimes with , according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Before the ban, the drugs were sold legally and mostly in 1-gram amounts in small vials or packets at tobacco shops and convenience stores. They are described as "incense" or "potpourri" on the packaging, and are given a wide variety of names, such as Red Magic and Dead Man Walking.

The drugs were linked to and to this year.

"These drugs present a real and present danger," said Jim Volk, Batavia Ward 4 alderman, at Monday's meeting.

Batavia and St. Charles join the following area towns with their own synthetic drug ban: , , North Aurora, , Sugar Grove and .

The Chicago City Council also voted on Nov. 16 to ban the sale of synthetic drugs. Aurora resident Karen Dobner last week spoke to Chicago aldermen about her 19-year-old son Max's experience with the drug. Max in Batavia Township while , Dobner said.

What Does the Ban Mean?

Shops in Batavia and St. Charles that are known to carry synthetic drug products will now have to pull it off their shelves, or be subject to large fines.

Distribution and possession of synthetic drugs each carry their own penalties, .

The ban in Batavia is effective this week, as soon as Mayor Jeff Schielke signs the ordinance and it is attested by City Clerk Heidi Wetzel, said Gary Schira, Batavia police chief.

Batavia Police will then drop off copies of the signed ordinance to the two stores already known to carry synthetic drug products. Those two Batavia stores are Crown Liquors & Tobacco, 135 First St. and Marathon Gas Station, 206 E. Wilson St.

Those stores will be expected to immediately remove synthetic products for sale, Schira said.

There will be compliance checks in the future with the two stores to make sure the drugs are gone, and checks in other stores to make sure the drugs don’t reappear elsewhere, Schira said.

Police will also be in touch with to get the word of the ban out among parents and students.

Growing Problem, Growing Response

These latest bans are reflective of a growing response from city and police officials to synthetic drugs. On Nov. 10, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan held an emergency summit on synthetic drugs.

In 2010, there were more than 2,900 calls from around the country to poison control centers about synthetic marijuana, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

In 2011 so far, there have been more than 5,700 calls.

Some synthetic drugs are already outlawed in the state of Illinois, and more will follow with another law that takes effect Jan. 1. But drug manufacturers can with different chemical compounds that are still legal.

State lawmakers hope to close that loophole with a more comprehensive synthetic drug law, a work still in progress.

Batavia Mayor Schielke has seen firsthand the need to ban the artificial drugs. He told the Council on Monday that he has observed police and firemen respond to people in distress near City Hall. In some of these instances, the people were found to be under the influence of synthetic drugs.

"(With the ban) the state of Illinois won’t have to worry about this area," Schielke said.

Charles Menchaca November 23, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Hi Nora, Thanks for your comment. When you say "I've yet to see a single legitimate source cited," do you mean for ALL aspects reported about this substance, or the accounts that attribute death to synthetic marijuana? —Charles Menchaca Editor, Batavia Patch
Karen November 24, 2011 at 03:57 PM
THC is a partial anogist, while synthetic THC is a full agonist. This means that real THC activates the CB-1 receptors partially, while the fake stuff fully activates the CB-1 receptors. To make matters worse, every package has a different potency. The 'bad guys' mix these chemicals with acetone (yep!) and spray it on plant material. They use one or a blend of over 400+ chemicals to make fake weed. So, every package is a mystery package. I get calls and emails all the time from people that say that they smoked this stuff for months without a "bad high". And then, they experience what most call the "worst experience" of their lives. They report seizures, hallucinations, panic attacks, paranoid delusions, vomiting, agitation, increased heart rate, heart attacks, inability to control body temperature, exaggerated thoughts of suicide (and occasionally homicide), temporary paralysis, feelings of impending doom or death (and they often believe that they are dead during the 'high'). Most of the people that are writing and calling me have not reported these incidences. As is typical, young people are afraid to report for fear of 'getting in trouble', even when someone is having seizures and hallucinating. Poison Control centers across the country received 2925 calls in 2010 and more than 5,700 already this year, which is a fraction of the true numbers.
Karen November 24, 2011 at 03:57 PM
Jay is suggesting that despite the alarming increase in the numbers, we should ignore the raw data and wait for a few years while they undergo critical analysis and people continue to die. Nothing I've said is a lie or half truth. I guess you'd have to be the DEA or other law enforcement agency (or have a foundation to battle this nightmare) to be able to hear about most of these nightmares.
Karen November 24, 2011 at 04:04 PM
We've already had two more deaths, just in the last month, in the western suburbs of Chicago. Let's stop this craziness!!!!
Nora November 24, 2011 at 05:28 PM
Can you please post sources (as in real links to the information) with your statistics? If I were to cite random numbers in a graduate-level paper without proper citation I would likely be taken to the University honor board. Also, THC binds to cannabinoid receptors. It also seems from the above information that it is the additives to the cannabinoids, much like the additives in cigarettes, that are the real issue. "Potency" in this sense also seems to refer to the efficiency with which synthetic cannabinoids bind to the naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Certain enantiomers of synthetics are almost completely inert because they are inefficient at binding with receptors, while the opposite enantiomer may be much more effective at binding, even more so than THC. However, an efficient enantiomer does not necessarily have the deleterious effects on human health that one associates with a drug that is referred to as "potent." There are many synthetic cannabinoids with legitimate medical applications, like Marinol, which could, for all intents and purposes, be described as "potent." Some of the most potent synthetics have actually been shown to have very positive outcomes for human health with regard to things like pain management and the treatment of Alzheimer's.

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