The state of Utah is considering a ban on a new synthetic drug called spice that, although currently legal, may be banned sooner rather than later.
The designer drug spice is a blend of herbs and synthetic cannabinoids that imitates the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana on the body. These synthetic chemicals, however, are much more potent and pose a greater threat to an individual’s health than THC.
Users report that common side effects of smoking spice are increased heart rate, dry mouth, red eyes, and, in some cases, increased blood pressure. There is no test to check for evidence of synthetic cannabinoids in someone’s system, as there are for other drugs, like alcohol or marijuana.
Cities and Counties Throughout Utah Take Action on Spice Ordinances
Since the state has not acted on the spice issue, some Utah city councils are taking the matter into their own hands. A Cache County ordinance took effect September 29, and an Ogden City ban took effect the week of September 15. Both ordinances make the use, sale, or possession of spice a class B misdemeanor. Someone in violation of the ordinance could face six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Layton City Council also passed a bill October 8, effective immediately, prohibiting the possession, use, and sale of spice. The action was prompted by an incident in which an impaired motorist failed several field sobriety tests, but law enforcement could not pin down a cause, since a spice drug test does not exist.
Cities will continue to pass ordinances banning the substance until the state passes its own laws. However, Assistant Attorney General Scott Reed believes state action will come sooner rather than later. The state legislature heard expert testimony on the dangers of spice in early September, but new legislation may still be a few months away.
Will there soon be a statewide ban on “spice” in Utah?