Council seeks synthetics sales restrictionsSuperior could soon have an ordinance similar to Duluth’s to restrict the sale of chemically created drugs such as synthetic marijuana and bath salts.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Superior could soon have an ordinance similar to Duluth’s to restrict the sale of chemically created drugs such as synthetic marijuana and bath salts.
Police Chief Charles LaGesse said he plans to introduce the ordinance designed to regulate the establishment of businesses like the Last Place on Earth.
Couple with legislation under development of the state Attorney General’s Office, City Attorney Frog Prell said he’s hopeful the city will never have to use the new ordinance that would license and regulate with zoning and other restrictions any business that would sell synthetic drugs in Superior.
LaGesse said he and Prell have had a number of discussions in recent months concerning the sale and establishment of those sales in the city of Superior.
“Individuals under the influence of these substances have exhibited violent and self-destructive behavior, and represent a danger to themselves and others,” LaGesse said. “With the increased availability of synthetic drugs in the Twin Ports, there has been a drastic increase in the number of disturbances and medical events that have been attributed to the use of these substances.”
While the city already has an ordinance prohibiting synthetic drugs, listing specific chemical compounds and their analogs, LaGesse said the ordinance doesn’t go far enough because manufacturers change the chemical compounds.
“While well intended, it does not specifically ban the possession or sale of synthetic drugs,” LaGesse said.
That reality is driving an effort to put tighter restrictions on those who would sell the drugs.
Specifically, LaGesse said, he plans to introduce an ordinance that would require licensure of businesses that sell synthetic drugs in Superior, establishes zoning rules, determines hours of operation and creates a structure for repealing the license of established rules are violated.
“A key requirement is for an accurate listing of all ingredients on the packaging of all synthetic drugs being sold,” LaGesse said. “Through such labeling, the buyer is informed about what they are purchasing.”
The chief said if it is discovered a retailer fails to meet the labeling standard, it would result in fines and the license for the sales could be revoked. Once revoked, any further sale of synthetic drugs would be illegal.
LaGesse said he plans to introduce an ordinance similar to one recently adopted in Duluth at the next Superior City Council meeting.
Wisconsin’s Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is also working on the issue by dedicating resources to establish a more complete list of chemicals that would be banned under state law.
Currently, a law originally sponsored by state Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, bans eight chemicals and their derivatives, but the law has proven difficult to enforce.
Prell said he believes that if the city gets to a place where they are acting to revoke a license, Superior has already lost the battle.
However, Prell said he’s confident the combination of changes coming in state law and an ordinance to regulate the sale will keep Superior from getting to that place.
Councilor Dan Olson said he is very familiar with the Last Place on Earth; his nephew is a police officer in Duluth.
“The fact of the matter is there are businesses closing around there,” Olson said. “I’ve talked to Mayor (Don) Ness about this and I would support anything we can do — the sooner, the better — so we don’t have the problem, before it becomes a problem.”
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is July 16.