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posted: 10/5/2011 5:00 AM

Sugar Grove bans synthetic pot effective immediately

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  • People protest the sale of herbal incense outside an Aurora tobacco store. The demonstration was organized by the To the Maximus Foundation. The foundation was formed by the mother of Max Dobner, after the young man died in a crash she believes was caused by his being high on synthetic marijuana bought as "herbal incense" at another Aurora tobacco store.

       People protest the sale of herbal incense outside an Aurora tobacco store. The demonstration was organized by the To the Maximus Foundation. The foundation was formed by the mother of Max Dobner, after the young man died in a crash she believes was caused by his being high on synthetic marijuana bought as "herbal incense" at another Aurora tobacco store.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer, September 201

  • Sugar Grove is cracking down on the sale of synthetic marijuana, sometimes marketed as "herbal incense."

      Sugar Grove is cracking down on the sale of synthetic marijuana, sometimes marketed as "herbal incense."
    Associated Press, 2010

 
 

Sugar Grove on Tuesday prohibited the sale, possession and use of "herbal incense" and "bath salts" that, when ingested, mimic the effects of marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

It did so as a stopgap measure until a state law prohibiting more synthetic cannabinoids takes effect Jan. 1. Sugar Grove police can enforce the village's law immediately.

"I felt it was important we move this forward," said Village President Sean Michels, noting neighboring Aurora has recently adopted such a law. Michels described it as a "life-safety issue."

The board approved the measure 5-0, with Trustee Robert Bohler absent.

"The last thing we would ever want to be hearing about is that we didn't take action that could have saved some of these kids," said Trustee Mari Johnson, referring to the effects of the substances on users.

North Aurora is considering a similar law. Aurora's was done at the request of Karen Dobner, mother of 19-year-old Max Dobner, who crashed his car in June into a house while high on synthetic marijuana. She has formed the To the Maximus Foundation to protest the sale of synthetic marijuana.

The state banned the substance known as "bath salts," with names like "Ivory Wave" and "Pure White," on July 22. Nine synthetic cannabis compounds were outlawed also, but that part doesn't take effect until Jan. 1.

The Sugar Grove ordinance references a list of more than 80 names for synthetic marijuana, such as "Blueberry Hayze" and "K2 Solid Sex on the Mountain."

Synthetic cannabinoids act on the body the same way natural cannabinoids do. Drug designers have come up with a number of compounds, changing a molecule here and there to skirt laws that banned specific chemical compounds.

The incense Max Dobner smoked said on the package that it was made of marshmallow flower, a plant used in herbal medicine. Kane County investigators have ordered tests of the remains of the package, to see which, if any, cannabinoids it had.

The Drug Enforcement Agency says the leaves are often sprayed with varying amounts of synthetic cannabinoids. They may also be mixed with PCP, real marijuana and amphetamines, according to Naperville-based psychiatrist Dr. Danesh Alam. He treats people who have used the incense.

Just like real pot, the synthetic version can raise a person's blood pressure, increase their pulse, induce vomiting and cause panic, paranoia and hallucinations, he said. Max Dobner complained to a brother, via telephone, that he was having a panic attack, according to Karen Dobner.

Unlike Aurora, which made it a misdemeanor crime, Sugar Grove's law allows police to write ordinance-violation tickets for small amounts or to bring misdemeanor charges.

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