OCEAN CITY – Those businesses who choose to sell synthetic drugs or drug paraphernalia in Ocean City can take a hike as two ordinances are passed to prohibit the sale of K2 or any substance close to it.
The two ordinances voted on prohibit the sale, possession, manufacture and distribution of any substance that contains cannabimimetic or hallucinogenic agents as well as any type of drug paraphernalia.
It all began with a substance called Salvia, which was banned from Ocean City last summer with the county and state following in its footsteps.
This summer police brought to the Mayor and City Council’s attention a different synthetic drug that has hit the shelves in Boardwalk stores, called K2 also known as “spice”.
Police requested K2 be outlawed as well as products that include the ingredients any synthetic drug would contain and all paraphernalia that would be sold right along with it.
Councilman Joe Hall was the only council member who voted against the ban of Salvia and has decided to do the same concerning the ordinances banning K2.
“I believe that this is a state issue,” he said. “I don’t believe that the town is the correct mechanism to make this product illegal. I believe that it should be illegal, I think that is a shame that our businesses choose to sell it and the people that come here purchase it, but I don’t believe that a municipal government of our size is the right venue to address this issue.”
Mayor Rick Meehan said he understood Hall’s point of view but by the time the substance makes it onto the state legislature’s agenda it could be six, nine or 12 months from now.
“The items that are being sold have proven to be dangerous to our residents and to our visitors,” the mayor said. “I don’t think Ocean City should have to wait. It is our responsibility that our community is safe and I think passing this ordinance takes that action.”
Councilman Brent Ashley agreed that this is the time to outlaw synthetic drugs from Ocean City.
“I think it is important that we send a message to the criminals and any drug pushing people that they are not welcome here,” Ashley said. “I think this is an important step in that direction sending a message clearly that we are not going to put up with this type of thing.”
Council President Jim Hall said that Ocean City needs to continue its path of being “on the cutting edge” of dealing with these issues.
“We have been the trend setter up and down the east coast for getting rid of this stuff,” he said. “I would hope that we would continue as long as we can do this.”
The council voted 6-1 to approve both emergency ordinances, with Joe Hall opposed.
“Action is taken immediately to enforce this ordinance and that means today,” the mayor said. “If there are businesses that need to rely on these types of sales and this type of activity to be successful, then maybe they just don’t belong in Ocean City and that’s fine with me.”
Jim Hall added that he has found out that there are property owners in town that exclude the sale of certain merchandise through their leases. He suggested to the council sit down with property owners to discuss the possibility to have them exclude “dirty” items in their leases with store owners.
“It seems to me you’re going to get a little bit more upscale stores or they’re going to get out of here and just do business in other places,” he said. “If the lease says you can’t sell it then you are way ahead of the game off the bat.”
Councilwoman Margaret Pillas said the stores who deny the offer to sell synthetic drugs and drug paraphernalia should be recognized.
“When you look at all the businesses in town, the businesses that are violating this are the exception not the rule,” Meehan said. “It’s the same ones over and over again and if this is what it takes … to get them to stop or go out of business it is fine with me.”