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updated: 1/16/2012 11:17 PM

Bloomingdale considers local ban on synthetic pot

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Bloomingdale village board members on Monday discussed passing a local version of a state law that bans the sale, manufacturing or possession of fake marijuana.

The local ordinance, combined with the state law effective since Jan. 1, will allow police greater enforcement flexibility, said Bloomingdale Police Chief Frank Giammarese.

"This gives us some discretion on the charging mechanism we would utilize, on who would get state charges and who would be charged under the local ordinance," Giammarese said. "With a larger quantity, we would look to the state. But if it were, for example, possession of a small amount by a first-time user, that may warrant us to charge locally."

The new state law casts a wider net in an effort to prohibit all compounds sold over the counter, which are often smoked by users to get the same high as marijuana. State lawmakers previously tried to ban fake marijuana sold as potpourri and called K2 and "spice," but manufacturers changed the chemical compounds to make the products legal again.

"It appears the components and chemicals (of fake marijuana) are changing rapidly," he said. "Being a home-rule community, this would enable us to modify our ordinance as a quicker pace than the state legislature."

Penalties under Bloomingdale's proposed law call for fines ranging from $25 to $1,000 for possession of synthetic marijuana based on weight, and fines of $750 to $1,000 for each count of selling the substance. Giammarese said anyone caught manufacturing or distributing the substance in Bloomingdale would likely be charged under state law.

The village attorney will review the potential ordinance, and officials are tentatively slated to vote on it at the Jan. 23 village board meeting.

In the past six months, Bloomingdale paramedics and police have fielded a handful of calls from users who had bad reactions from smoking the synthetic drug, such as hallucinations, said Giammarese.

Bloomingdale Police also found the synthetic marijuana inside one store, Cigar Emporium in Stratford Square Mall, Giammarese told officials. He said police visited the site with a search warrant and the substance was in the backroom, adding the case is still pending.

These problems are in addition to the seizure of $1 million worth of synthetic pot and bath salts last month at a smoke shop in an unincorporated area near Lombard, Giammarese said.

The DuPage County sheriff's tactical narcotics team raided the store Dec. 15, also netting drug paraphernalia and more than $5,000 in cash from Sergio's Discount Smoke Shop, 21W500 North Ave. Store operations were shut down.

Chicago and some suburbs like North Aurora and Batavia enacted local ordinances against synthetic marijuana before the state law kicked in Jan. 1.

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