El Cajon City Council approves city ban on synthetic drugs

Violaters to be fined $2,500

EL CAJON, Calif. - The El Cajon City Council Tuesday approved a ban on synthetic drugs, and authorities promised to go after stores that sell them.

"I get kids coming in here all the time buying candy and soda pop," said Ryan Miller, owner of B's Keg Beer in El Cajon. "If something like that is around, I just wouldn't want my son to be around anything like that."

At El Cajon City Hall Tuesday, by unanimous vote, synthetic drugs were declared a public nuisance. Stores caught selling synthetic drugs -- such as bath salts and spice -- will soon face a fine of $2,500.

"If they do end up selling it and get caught selling it, they can be fined through the city and their business licenses can be revoked," said Lt. Mark Coit with the El Cajon Police Department.

Since synthetic drugs became illegal by both federal and state law, some manufacturers have tried to alter their ingredients to get around the laws.

"By their very nature, the compounds and chemicals can be altered," said Coit. "By altering them, you may get different chemicals, but the same effects."

Some of the effects can be deadly, authorities said. Other dangers include seizures, psychosis, hallucinations and cardiac arrest.

Still, its use has been growing.

According to El Cajon police, from January to February 2011, there were more than 250 calls to poison centers across the U.S. with concerns about synthetic drugs. That's more than the total number of calls made in the year 2010, with 236 calls nationwide.

While Miller told 10News he has not, nor ever will, sell synthetic drugs, he believes the fines will send a strong message to other business owners.

The ban will go into effect in 30 days.

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