New law targets ‘Spice’
ANCHORAGE – The Anchorage Assembly is taking aim at what some call the most dangerous drugs on the market: Synthetic drugs, which are labeled as something else and sold over the counter.
Anchorage has had a law on the books for the last two years making drugs like “Spice” illegal. However, more than 20 stores in Anchorage still sell them. The problem, according to municipal prosecutor Cynthia Franklin, is that manufacturers keep changing the ingredients to stay one step ahead of the law.
The ordinance Anchorage Assembly members will consider Tuesday evening focuses not on what is in the drugs, but how they are marketed. What would become illegal is a substance clearly meant to be used as a drug but labeled as something else, like bath salts, incense or potpourri.
“A lot of times the clerk behind the counter will tell you how you how to use it, how you smoke it, how you get it into your body,” Franklin said. “Everybody knows they are used to get high, everyone knows they aren’t the name that’s on the product.”
Franklin said the drugs have caused many deaths around the country, but the fact that they can be purchased in stores may be giving consumers a false sense of security.
“You are making an assumption that you couldn’t buy that product at that store unless it was regulated in some way, someone had tested it and it wasn’t going to kill you. That’s a false assumption,” Franklin said. “What this is saying is, we are going to look at these products for what they are and not for what people are pretending they are.”
The law would not include jail time, but people who bought, sold or possessed the drugs would be subject to a $500 dollar fine. Franklin said the fine would be per-packet; meaning stores that sell the products might have to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
Assembly members will take up the issue Tuesday night during their regular meeting, with time scheduled for a public hearing.