Cottonwood bans bath salts
COTTONWOOD -- Councilman Terence Pratt is usually the first on the city council to define a vote as an easy decision. Pratt was not on hand Tuesday but Ruben Jauregui used the now-familiar Pratt expression "no-brainer" to describe Ordinance 583.
The new law to control the sale of bath salts and similar products in the City of Cottonwood was passed by an "emergency" basis.
The bill describes its function as "PROHIBITING THE POSSESSION, USE, SALE AND DISPLAY OF CERTAIN FEDERALLY CONTROLLED DANGEROUS SUBSTANCES AND THEIR CHEMICAL ANALOGUES."
The council had few questions about the danger and harm of the synthetic drugs, but they did wonder about enforcement of the law and of "chemical analogues."
Council members heard from City Manager Doug Bartosh, co-chairman of the Yavapai substance abuse coalition MATForce and from Police Chief Jody Fanning, describing bath salts as worse than methamphetamine, causing agitation, insomnia, irritability, dizziness, depression, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures and panic attacks. They say there are increasing cases of domestic violence.
Cottonwood Oak Creek School Superintendent Barbara U'Ren talked about the five 11-year-old students who were hospitalized after using a powdery bath salts-like powder on campus in early November. Four were released, but one student was re-admitted.
Mingus Principal Tamara Addis read letters from Mingus students who spoke against bath salts-type products. "This drug is a monster," said one. "It is bad or even worse than banned drugs," another wrote.
Merilee Fowler, director of MATForce, said Cottonwood is always on the leading edge and that bath salts have become "a significant problem in Yavapai County."
The council also heard from the Bob and Barbara Donahue, the corporate officers for The Don's Smoke Shop. The Old Town shop has been identified as the main Old Town supplier of "Window Cleaner." They objected to rumor, innuendo and unfounded accusations.
They cited a Colorado case in which the Analogue Act was determined to be too vague. Instead, Barbara Donahue suggested Cottonwood spend its time and money on other projects, like playground equipment and community cleanup projects.
The shop had already posted a notice on its store window that it would discontinue the sale of Window Cleaner effective Jan. 3, the day the council banned the product.
The Donahues say they have always sold products that are legal, but are not necessarily healthy, including tobacco and craft beers. Their attorney told them that the Cottonwood action was "probably a witch hunt."
Window Cleaner is the product that prompted an outcry from merchants and other organizers in Old Town. But officials say bath salts and similar synthetic drugs have been marketed under many colorful brands, including "incense," "window cleaner," "potpourri," "plant fertilizer," and "insect repellant."
Jet Tennant, operator of the Red Rooster Café in Old Town, said the people who appear to be users pass through her restaurant on their way to the smoke shop.
While the Drug Enforcement Administration has already included three chemicals [chemicals 4-methyl-N-methylcathinone (mephedrone), 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylcathinone (methylone), and 3,4- ethylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)] in the list of Schedule-1 drugs, on its "Drugs and Chemicals of Concern" list the difficulty has been in the local enforcement.
Attorney Steve Horton said a legislator has proposed to introduce legislation that would make the ban a state law like the ban on k2 or Spice.
But, the local law will include prohibitions as a Class-1 misdemeanor in the city.
The local ban, with the emergency provision, goes into effect immediately.By Philip Wright
JEROME - When the Town Council meets in regular session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, one of the first items taken up will be a proposed ordinance to prohibit any form of bath salts from being used or sold in town.
"We're following Cottonwood's lead," Mayor Jay Kinsella said. "We don't want any issues with this stuff in Jerome."
This stuff, is described in proposed Ordinance 393 as: "... certain federally controlled dangerous substances and their chemical analogues. These substances are marketed under labels that include "bath salts," "incense," "window cleaner," "potpourri," "plant fertilizer," and "insect repellant," among other names, and have been linked to serious physical effects resulting in hospitalization and death when ingested, inhaled, or otherwise introduced into the human body."
The proposed ordinance would "Prohibit the possession, use, sale and display of certain federally controlled dangerous substances and their chemical analogues, and declaring an emergency."
"We're going to follow procedure on this," Kinsella said, "but it will be a priority."
Kinsella said there isn't anything good about bath salts. He said the town intends to get ahead of this thing.
"I don't know if anyone in Jerome is selling bath salts," Kinsella said. "Jerome is a pretty open-minded town, and we'll have open discussions on this. But we want to take the fast track on this."
The Cottonwood City Council passed a similar ordinance Tuesday night as an emergency measure banning bath salts.
Also on the meeting agenda is a public hearing to receive ideas from residents on how a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant should be used to benefit low-income persons and areas in town. The CDBG funds also may be used to alleviate slum and blight or for some urgent need the town has.
The council also will take up the matter of adopting a notice of intent to increase water rates and hookup fees for vineyards. An increase would not affect other water users.
The council meets in chambers in the Jerome Civic Center at 600 Clark St.