Mundelein taking new steps against sale, possession of synthetic drugs

Mundelein officials are targeting the manufacturing, sale and possession of ever-evolving synthetic drugs by adopting local rules that go beyond what state law covers.

An ordinance approved by the village board Monday night identifies more than 200 products and substances deemed dangerous by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Synthetic drugs are designed to have the same intoxicating effects as marijuana and other illegal drugs. But because they’re different chemically, they’re not necessarily illegal.

They can cause seizures, hallucinations, paranoid behavior and “severe psychotic episodes,” among other health problems, according to a memo Police Chief Raymond J. Rose sent to the village board.

Some had been sold at Mundelein convenience stores and gas stations until recently, Rose said in an interview Tuesday.

Manufacturers of synthetic drugs often change the chemical compounds to stay ahead of the law. That makes the drugs even more dangerous than traditional narcotics, Rose said.

“This is becoming a very, very serious problem,” he said.

The village board first created a local ordinance targeting synthetic drugs about two years ago, Rose said. The new rules cover more substances and are based on DEA research that’s more up to date than the state law, which became effective Jan. 1.

Under Mundelein’s new rules, anyone found guilty of possessing or using any synthetic drug will be fined between $250 and $750, the ordinance states.

Anyone found guilty of manufacturing, selling or delivering synthetic drugs will be fined between $500 and $750.

The ordinance was adopted without opposition. The penalties are effective immediately.

“We’re not going to allow the purchase, possession or sale of these compounds, potentially deadly compounds, especially near our schools,” Rose said.

Police have already spoken to business owners about the dangers of the products, and they’ve been removed from local stores, Rose said. But officers will make purchases at stores suspected of selling synthetic drugs and test the products to see if they violate the new ordinance, he said.

Municipal leaders in Lincolnshire, West Chicago and Aurora are among those that have targeted synthetic drugs at the local level.

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