At their meeting Thursday evening, the Lubbock City Council gave initial approval to banning the substance known as synthetic marijuana.

A number of citizens spoke in favor of banning the substance during citizen comments as well.

The Council unanimously approved the first reading of the ordinance, which prohibits “the sale, public display for sale, attempted sale, gift, barter, delivery, possession, or use of illicit synthetic drugs and misbranded drugs.”

The ordinance names a number of synthetic drugs, including Salvia and any other drug listed as a controlled substance by the Texas Health and Safety Code.

In order to also cover modifications of the synthetic drug, the ordinance makes it unlawful to use any substances similar to the ones laid out in the ordinance that “may produce intoxication, stupefaction, giddiness, paralysis, irrational behavior, or which, in any manner, changes, distorts, or disturbs the auditory, visual, or mental process of the user, when the substance has no other legitimate, non-narcotic purpose.”

It does, however, exempt those who breathed or otherwise ingested the substance under supervision of a law enforcement officer, or the inhalation of anesthesia for a medical or dental purpose.

Using, selling, or possessing these drugs would be a class C misdemeanor and subject to a fine of up to $2,000 following conviction in municipal court.

The Council passed the first reading of the ordinance 6-0, Mayor Glen Robertson absent due to recent heart surgery.

Some Council members say that the ordinance will not solve the problem of synthetic drug use.

District 5 Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Karen Gibson said “The work’s not done. We have a long way to go…Education is probably the biggest key in the fight against this stuff.”

“This is just the beginning of the things we should have done, because we let this elephant get in our living room when he was little, now he’s grown up and we don’t have a door to let him out of. I’m ready,” said District 2 Councilman Floyd Price.

“The ordinance alone will not solve this problem,” said District 6 Councilwoman Latrelle Joy. “Education is key, but the other part of it, is not just the City educating, we’ve got to talk about it in schools, churches, everybody has got to get involved, but on top of that, parents have to be more vigilant about their children.”

In a December 6th meeting, the Council tasked the City’s Board of Health to conduct research on the impact of these synthetic drugs and educate the public on the effects of these substances.

The Council will likely consider the second reading of this ordinance at their meeting on February 14th. The ordinance would go into effect 30 days after final approval.

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