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updated: 12/9/2011 4:40 PM

Lake in the Hills says no to local ban on synthetic pot

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  • Associated PressSeveral towns have banned the sale of synthetic marijuana, dried herbs sprayed with chemicals, but Lake in the Hills Director of Police and Public Safety James Wales believes the problem can only be properly address with state law. A state law bans the sale of compounds sold under the names Spice and K2.

      Associated PressSeveral towns have banned the sale of synthetic marijuana, dried herbs sprayed with chemicals, but Lake in the Hills Director of Police and Public Safety James Wales believes the problem can only be properly address with state law. A state law bans the sale of compounds sold under the names Spice and K2.

  • James Wales

      James Wales

 
 

Several towns have adopted or are considering bans on synthetic marijuana, but Lake in the Hills officials say they are not going to follow the trend.

Local ordinances aren't enough of a deterrent, said Director of Police and Public Safety James Wales, who believes the only way of properly addressing the problem is with state laws.

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"Doing it by ordinance with each town, there are no criminal sanctions and it's a piecemeal approach," he said. "Those in violation would just have to pay some money to the village."

The current state law bans synthetic marijuana compounds sold under the names "K2" and "Spice." A broader ban going into effect Jan. 1 will apply to every known chemical variation of synthetic cannabinoids, said Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, spokeswoman for Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross.

Penalties for possession can include probation or 1 to 3 years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000; manufacture or delivery of the substance is a Class 3 felony with penalties including probation or 2 to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $150,000, Wojcicki Jimenez said.

Local ordinances, however, can be even broader in scope than the new state law, said Lt. Brian Olsen, of the Aurora police special operations group. Aurora adopted such an ordinance in September.

"Manufacturers of these products change one molecule (to sell the product legally). Our ordinance was written to cover any variations of it," he said. "Our ordinance basically caused all of our businesses to stop selling it."

Undercover officers conduct period checks, and so far no one has been charged with violating the ordinance, Olsen said.

Chicago, West Chicago, North Aurora, Sugar Grove, Oswego, Campton Hills and Batavia are among the towns that have banned synthetic marijuana. Fines can be as high as $1,000.

Lake in the Hills resident Lauren Watson recently pleaded to the village boards in Algonquin and Lake in the Hills to ban the substance.

A North Aurora teen died this summer after smoking synthetic pot and crashing his car into a house.

"These are kids who have never smoke a drug before, and are dying or hurting somebody," Watson said.

Last month, Watson was charged with domestic battery after she tried to stop her daughter from purchasing the substance at a Lake in the Hills store. "I care because she's my daughter. If she's going to jump off a cliff, I'm going to stop her from jumping off a cliff," she said.

Algonquin village officials are working on an ordinance that will be up for discussion at the committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday.

That's not going to happen any time soon in Lake in the Hills.

"We looked into this, we're well aware of this," Village President Ed Plaza told Watson this week.

"(Local ordinances) give a false sense of security to parents," Wales said, adding that the police department conducted stings in April to ensure state law was being followed.

Heroin is a much bigger problem in Lake in the Hills, Wales said. There were about four heroin-related offenses in Lake in the Hills in the last month alone, as opposed to four synthetic marijuana-related offenses in all of 2011, he said.

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