Public Safety

Ordinance to Combat “Designer Drugs” Approved

The County moved on two fronts in the battle against so-called designer drugs like “Spice” and “bath salts.”

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that would make the drugs public nuisances that could be fought with civil actions in unincorporated areas.  They also approved a separate measure supporting state legislation that makes possession of the drugs illegal. 

“Combined, these two measures will put San Diego at the forefront of efforts to combat what is a growing and dangerous problem facing our society,” said Supervisor Greg Cox, District 1.  “These drugs are being marketed to our children and are creating havoc in our communities.”

Use of the drugs has risen dramatically in recent years with the products being sold at gas stations, liquor stores, convenience stores and smoke shops.  They come under a wide variety of names that give little indication of how harmful they can be.

“It’s being marketed to them in a way they don’t quite understand,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.  “The types of behavior we see are violent.  They are psychotic.  And they are something that none of these teenagers can anticipate.

“Every tool that we can enact that will help us to keep the kids safe is a good one,” Dumanis said.

The enforcement efforts target two classes of drugs: synthetic chemicals like “Spice,” often referred to as “fake marijuana,” and synthetic  stimulants such as “bath salts” with produce effects similar to those created by amphetamines.  Emergency room doctors report users of either suffering a long list of dangerous side effects. 

“Every time we turn around there is some new threat to our young people,” said Board Chairman Ron Roberts. “What’s most important is that we respond. “

A final vote on whether to formally adopt the local ordinance is scheduled for the April 3 Board meeting.