Provo latest city to ban fake marijuana
Provo • Utah County's seat is the latest city to outlaw fake marijuana.
The Municipal Council voted 5-1 to ban spice and other substances that could be used to get a high similar to marijuana.
For Greg Hudnall, Provo School District's student services director, the ordinance couldn't come too soon.
"This is becoming a major problem," Hudnall told the council. "This is the No. 1 complaint we have from parents. We have parents calling us asking what we can do about it."
Hudnall said four students were arrested in schools Tuesday for being intoxicated after using spice.
The ordinance, modeled in part on Ogden's ordinance, outlaws the possession, use and sale of 11 chemicals that simulate marijuana's effects, as well as any other substance that is chemically similar or duplicates the effects of THC, marijuana's active ingredient. Violators could be charged with a class B misdemeanor.
The ordinance also outlaws the possession of paraphernalia that could be used to grow, process or smoke spice. And that is one of the things that troubled Councilman Sterling Beck, who cast the only no vote.
"I don't want this to outlaw common gardeners," Beck said, noting the prohibition on seeds and cultivation tools used to grow the plants that form spice.
Beck also expressed concerns that the ordinance was an extreme overreach by the city into areas best left to the federal and state government.
"I'm not a doctor, and Provo doesn't have an FDA," Beck said. He said the city should wait for the state to act rather than go out on its own.
But Councilwoman Sherrie Hall Everett, who pushed for the ordinance, doesn't see it as overreaching.
"I don't think the ordinance single-handedly expands government," Everett said.
Instead, she said the ordinance represents government closest to the people. She noted that people in the community have asked for the city to take action.
In addition to Hudnall, Police Chief Craig Geslison also asked the city to regulate spice. Geslison earlier told the council that spice was becoming a problem, and officers were finding people who were mixing it with marijuana.
The city ordinance contains provisions that allow state law to supersede portions of it that exceed the city's rules.
Spice had been available in convenience stores and smoke shops.
The Hookah Connection, a Provo smoke shop two blocks from City Center, sold spice. Employees at the store declined to comment about the ordinance Tuesday night.
Utah communities that have outlawed spice:
Box Elder County