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Village looks to ban fake marijuana

County also looks at prohibiting K-2

November 10, 2010 | 09:17 AM
By Robert Ireland


Walworth — The village is looking to ban a substance that is often called "fake marijuana."

Synthetic marijuana, also known as K-2, Spice, Genie and Yucatan Fire, is marketed as an incense, but when smoked can impair the user.

The village's General Services Committee tabled banning the substance during its Nov. 4 meeting.

Village Police Chief and Emergency Service Director Chris Severt said his department hasn't encountered anyone with the substance, but he wants to take a proactive approach to enforcing it.

"It is something being talked about across the state," Severt said.

Several municipalities throughout the state have banned possessing, using or selling the drug. Green Bay, Waukesha and Neenah already have banned the drug and other communities are considering making it illegal.

General Service Committee Chair Patrick Hubertz said the committee reviewed numerous ordinances, but wanted to learn more about it before banning the substance.

"We saw a slew of ordinances that are out there in draft form, but the majority of them haven't been adopted by anyone at this point," he said.

Trustee Kent Johnson said police want the ability to fine people who have K-2.

"I don't have a problem making it illegal if other communities are doing it or if it can become a problem," Johnson said.

Walworth County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Jeff Patek, a member of the drug unit, said the county also is looking at creating an ordinance that bans synthetic marijuana.

"The best thing to do is get ahead of it before it becomes a problem in your school or your community," Patek said.

Synthetic marijuana can be legally sold in communities without ordinances prohibiting it. Severt doesn't believe it is being sold in any stores in the village.

Patek said he isn't aware of it being sold within Walworth County. However, Patek said the drug unit has run into people using synthetic marijuana in the county.

An inmate who was free on work release privileges was caught rolling K-2 into a joint while walking down the road, Patek said.

On the Internet, K-2 is often labeled as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana, but according to law enforcement it isn't.

"From what I've been told it's worse (than marijuana)," Severt said.

Patek said K-2 users have reportedly experienced hallucinations, heart palpitations, seizures, panic attacks and increased aggression after using the drug.

The effects of K-2 are also unpredictable, Patek said.

"It depends on the person who uses it," Patek said. "One person can be very mellow and a different person can very aggressive."

Patek said K-2 is similar in appearance to tobacco, but doesn't consist of strictly brown flakes. It also may have green or red flakes.

If the village of Walworth adopts an ordinance that bans the substance, it could be the first municipality in Walworth County to create an ordinance banning synthetic marijuana.

However, Patek said other municipalities are in the process of writing an ordinance.

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