Marion to Ban Synthetic Drugs, Menthol Cigarettes

The Marion Board of Health has prepared a draft regulation that would ban the sale of synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic stimulants, and synthetic psychedelic/hallucinogens in Marion.

Towns within the Commonwealth have been granted the authority to make “reasonable health regulations” as other cities and towns have done pertaining to synthetic drugs, and a public hearing on the matter will be held on September 13 when all three Board of Health members will likely vote to approve the new law.

On August 9, Board of Health members briefly reviewed the draft regulation that specified synthetic marijuana and “synthetic marijuana analogue,” which are both similar in that they have a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system. These products are usually consumed by inhalation or ingestion.

The draft regulation prohibits the selling, offering to sell, distribution, gifting, and public display of the sale of synthetic drugs in any form, whether described as “tobacco, herbs, incense, spice, bath salts, plant food or any blend thereof and regardless of whether the substance is marketed for the purpose of being ingested, and regardless of whether the substance is marked ‘not for human consumption.’”

Penalties include a $100 fine for a first offense, plus the suspension of all licenses for two days. A second violation brings a fine of $300 to the permit holder and suspension of permit to operate the food establishment or operation where synthetic drugs have been found. A third violation is a license suspension until a hearing is held to suspend or revoke all licenses.

The Marion Board of Health would enforce this regulation in conjunction with the Police Department and is enforceable by the filing of a criminal complaint in District Court.

“There shall be zero tolerance for violations of this regulation,” reads the draft. “As there are no exemptions to this regulation that will not result in undue hazard to the public health and safety of the community, there shall be no exceptions to the penalties proscribed…”

“Our job is to get [this draft regulation] through and [Police Chief Lincoln Miller’s] job is to enforce it,” said Board of Health member John Howard. “It looks good,” he said, looking over the draft.

Board of Health member Jason Reynolds wanted to take it a step further and proposed that the board ban the sale of menthol cigarettes, along with all flavored tobacco and flavored nicotine-containing products such as ‘vaping’ fluid and flavored electronic cigarettes.

Reynolds said other towns have outlawed, restricted the age to purchase the flavored products, and the establishments that can sell them, but Reynolds preferred a more far-reaching action.

“My preference would be to restrict its sale completely,” said Reynolds.

“I would agree with that,” said Howard, making the motion to amend the Town’s current tobacco regulation that presently restricts the purchase of flavored tobacco and nicotine products to the age of 21 and ban them completely from Marion. The motion passed.

“We probably ought to specifically say ‘menthol’ in addition to flavor,” said Board of Health Chairman Betsy Dunn. “People might not look at ‘Kools’ as flavored.”

The next meeting of the Board of Health is scheduled for August 23 at 4:30 pm at the Marion Town House.

By Jean Perry


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