Addison officials are taking a stand against synthetic marijuana by banning it locally, while also trying to educate residents and business owners on its dangers.
A local version of state law banning synthetic marijuana will go into effect April 12 in the village. It will mirror the state law that launched at the beginning of this year, banning the sale, manufacturing and possession of fake marijuana.
In addition, the Addison Police Department recently held forums on the issue at Addison Trail High School and in Addison Elementary District 4 and conducted a sweep of some community businesses to check for the substance.
"We just want to be proactive because you're hearing a lot more about these synthetic stimulants, even bath salts, and how these kids are smoking and inhaling them," police Chief Timothy Hayden said. "The chemists are so quick, you can't keep up with how fast they change the chemical makeup. But we have a community that is now aware of it."
Authorities likely will use the ordinance most frequently on small-scale users or dealers, and police could look to the state to charge someone who is found with a larger quantity. The ordinance also gives Addison the flexibility to modify its local law more quickly as drug chemicals evolve, as opposed to waiting for state laws to update.
Penalties under Addison's proposed law call for no minimum fines, with a maximum fine of up to $750. Hayden said judges can use their discretion on how to sentence someone found guilty of having the drug.
"What are you going to do if you have a 13-, 14-, or 15-year old kid who is a first-time user? Those kids often get public service," Hayden said. "But adults would likely end up with a much larger fine."
Hayden said police have not seen an uptick in 911 calls associated with the substance, and officers found only one Addison business selling synthetic marijuana or paraphernalia. But he said that shop, along with all local shops officers approached, were cooperative when educated about the substance.
"We didn't have to stop that shop with arrests. We got a lot of good cooperation," Hayden said. "We think we have a handle on it in the community, because we're not seeing it out there now."
Addison is following towns like Bloomingdale, North Aurora and Batavia that also passed similar local ordinances.
Within the past 12 months, other areas have seen trouble with synthetic marijuana. This week, two men working at a chain of two Shell gas stations in West Chicago were charged with drug possession with intent to deliver. Their charges followed the March arrest of an employee at one of those gas stations on the 100 block of Neltnor Boulevard.
In addition, the DuPage County sheriff's tactical narcotics team raided a smoke shop in unincorporated Lombard on Dec. 15, seizing about $1 million worth of synthetic pot and bath salts, drug paraphernalia and more than $5,000. Store operations were shut down at Sergio's Discount Smoke Shop, 21W500 North Ave.