City Committee Aproves Synthetic Drugs Ban 5-0
Filed under: Issues, Living Free, Personal Freedom, Police, Politics, Update, Victimless Crimes, Video
Last night the Keene PLD committee voted 5-0 to approve the proposed ban on synthetic drugs in Keene. Many in the community came out to speak on the issue, most of whom spoke for the new prohibition. Led by a group of confused, angry local parents, the prohibitionists won the day with their fear-based arguments justifying the violence the people calling themselves “the city” will soon employ against the poorest of victims – drug addicts.
The commission pretended to care as the opponents of prohibition spoke in favor of freedom and pointed out how prohibition created synthetic drugs in the first place, that prohibition never works, and the war on drugs only makes addicts’ lives worse.
Truth was of no concern to the committee. They overwhelmingly bought the prohibitionists’ claims that their ban will make things safer, when all the evidence points to the opposite. Force does not work and always creates unintended consequences. Force is not compassion for our sick, addicted neighbors.
The matter now goes to the full council where it will likely pass, despite not even likely being legal by their own rules. Of course, when have their own rules ever stopped them from doing what they want?
Here’s the city’s video of the commission meeting. The synthetic drug ban is the first issue raised, and testimony lasts a while. Also, here’s good coverage of the event from the Keene Sentinel’s Kyle Jarvis:
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A proposed ordinance banning the sale of synthetic drugs is moving closer to becoming the law in Keene.
The council’s municipal services, facilities and infrastructure committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to recommend the full council pass an ordinance banning the sale of so-called synthetic marijuana in Keene, despite testimony from some residents that prohibition doesn’t work and will create more problems.
The discussion came after several months of back and forth about the sale of the drugs. The substances are marketed as incense and come in brightly colored packages with catchy names that invoke the most potent strains of real marijuana, such as ““Purple Sticky,” “Wild Berry,” “K2,” and “Black Mamba.”
In June, the council voted unanimously to ban the sale of synthetic substances in Keene after hearing testimony from residents and community leaders who say the products are dangerous due to health and safety risks.
The council directed City Attorney Thomas P. Mullins to work on drafting an ordinance permanently banning the sale of synthetics in Keene, and that ordinance was presented to the municipal services committee Wednesday night.
The committee again heard from several community members about the dangers of those products.
Last month, an employee of Phat Stuff, which had been criticized by community leaders and those whose lives have been affected by the substances, told a Sentinel reporter that the store no longer carries the products.
“Getting (synthetic drugs) out of stores makes it more difficult to acquire,” said Kimberly Diemond of Marlborough, who first brought the issue to the council’s attention with a letter several months ago.
Diemond spoke of a recent spate of cases in Denver, where nearly 100 young people were hospitalized recently as a result of ingesting synthetic drugs.
“Are we going to do something about it?” she asked. “Or are we going to sit back and watch it happen?”
Jeffrey Scott of Chesterfield approached the committee holding a sign with a picture of a young girl from Texas who ingested synthetic drugs and is now suffering serious health problems.
“We need to do everything we can to get this off our shelves,” he said.
Lori Jones of Keene said her own daughter became a synthetic drug addict after ingesting “several packets a day.”
“It was very hard to keep up with her, with all the trouble she was getting into,” she said, adding that her daughter had to be sent to a special school because she was “uncontrollable.”
“I want this stuff out of Keene, so once she is better, she can stay better.”
Deb Chambers and her daughter Carly Emerson, both of Swanzey, also encouraged the committee to recommend passing the ordinance, as Emerson said her own addiction to synthetics has left her with health issues that are likely to stay with her for the rest of her life.
But not everyone was in favor of the ordinance.
“I believe the answer to this problem is not more restriction, but more freedom,” said David Crawford, a candidate for City Council. Crawford previously submitted the request to the council asking it to endorse decriminalization of marijuana.
“Perhaps if the illegal stuff was allowed, this wouldn’t have come to be.”
Ian Freeman, also a council candidate, said the council is taking the wrong approach.
“History shows prohibition doesn’t work,” he said. “The odds are good that (if the ordinance passes) Keene police are going to be arresting people of a poorer persuasion, which will only impoverish drug addicts even more. If you make this product illegal, it’s not going to go away. If you really want to treat your neighbors with compassion, offer them help.”
Keith Carlsen of Keene told the committee that banning the substances will accomplish little, since similar federal efforts have failed due to the ever-changing compound composition of synthetic drugs.
“Every single time, it comes back and it’s stronger,” he said. “They’re going to make another drug, and it’ll be ever more harmful. Every time you do this, you’re making it worse.”
Mullins said he worked with the state crime laboratory to craft the ordinance in a way that anticipates those changes.
Keene Police Chief Kenneth Meola called it “an evolving issue.” Meola acknowledged he doesn’t have “a solid answer” as to how the ordinance will be enforced after Nicholas Ryder of Keene asked the question while toting a magic marker and a bottle of bleach in an attempt to show the difficulty in banning household items that can be used as inhalants for intoxicating effect.
Councilor Philip M. Jones said that while he understands the authority to regulate drugs rests solely with the state and federal governments, he still supports the ordinance. “Sometimes action leads to action,” he said, recalling Keene leading the way in banning smoking in restaurants several years ago, a move that was eventually followed by state officials.
The committee voted 5-0 to recommend passing the ordinance, which will be taken up by the full council at its meeting Sept. 19.
Kyle Jarvis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 283-0755. Follow him on Twitter @KJarvisKS.