An ordinance passed by the city council on Tuesday targets synthetic marijuana products such as K2 and Spice that are available online and at gas stations as herbal incense.
Black Magic Smoke, another street name for the marijuana alternative, recently became available at two convenience stores in Cordova.
Police chief Kenneth Bobo said he became aware two weeks ago that the product was being sold in Cordova and some surrounding cities.
Bobo said research by city officials uncovered some unsettling facts.
“It’s being promoted mainly toward our youth, and we’re concerned about the health hazards it has,” Bobo said.
Although the package contains a warning label that it is not for human consumption, K2 is commonly smoked to produce a high similar to marijuana.
Synthetic chemicals that coat the herbs in the incense have been compared to THC in marijuana.
A website for Black Magic Smoke states that the product has become popular among high school students as well as “people on parole, in the military and even professionals wanting to get high without the risk of getting caught.”
Several teenagers have posted YouTube videos of themselves smoking Black Magic Smoke as well as reviewing it.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers issued a warning about synthetic marijuana products in March.
Although no deaths have been reported, possible symptoms include agitation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tremors, chest pain and a fast heart rate.
K2 has been responsible for at least 112 calls to poison control centers in the U.S. since 2009, according to information provided in an AAPCC press release.
Kansas was the first state to ban the substance. Several others have followed, including Alabama.
Salvia and herbs treated with synthetic chemicals such as JWH018 and JWH073 were outlawed in the state beginning in July.
However, Black Magic Smoke and several other products listed in the Cordova ordinance are still legal under state and federal law.
A representative in the Alabama League of Municipalities’ legal department confirmed Tuesday that although there has been an interest in similar ordinances from several cities, he was not aware of any that have been passed.
“We’ll be the first ones in the state to outlaw this stuff, and we’re hoping our neighboring cities will get on board, along with the State Legislature,” Bobo said.
Cordova’s ordinance bans the sale, use and delivery of synthetic marijuana products as well as ingestion devices such as pipes.
Violation is a Class A misdemeanor and the penalty is a fine of up to $2,000.
Bobo said he didn’t expect that alternative drugs like Black Magic Smoke would become part of his fight against local drugs when they began making national news in the spring.
“We didn’t have any clues that it would come here this quickly,” Bobo said.堞