A trio of west Oakland County communities — Waterford Township, White Lake Township and Walled Lake — are joining West Bloomfield Township’s fight in cracking down on synthetic marijuana by beginning the process of prohibiting the possession and trafficking of these substances given recent Oakland County incidents allegedly connected to the use of the drugs known as “Spice” and “K2,” among other handles.
Waterford, White Lake and Walled Lake officials held emergency meetings in the last week to address the issue by drafting new emergency ordinances for those communities.
However, Commerce Township has for the time being opted against drafting any ordinance targeting Spice or K2.
“With all that’s been going on, this stuff needs to be removed,” said Walled Lake Police Chief Paul Shakinas. “We have two gas stations that sell it and I’ve sent detectives out to politely ask them to remove it from their shelves. But (if they don’t), the ordinance will take care of it and they will have to comply.”
The Waterford Township proposal states that the intent of the ordinance is “to prohibit the possession and use of, and trafficking in, synthetic marijuana and other products or materials that are in a form that allows for human consumption by inhalation of smoke or vapors, ingestion, injection or application, and that contain chemical substances, compounds, or agents that cause or may cause an intoxicating, narcotic, stimulant, depressant, and/or hallucinogenic effect and imminent threat to the safety of persons that consume such products or materials and/or persons they come in contact with.”
“We just want to get this (ordinance) in the community for enforcement because of the drastic consequences these substances have in the surrounding areas,” said Waterford Township Supervisor Carl Solden. “Based on all the attention these substances are getting and the anguish people have had, we want to keep it out of circulation and avoid serious incidents in our community.”
Spice produces powerful mind-altering effects and some consider it more detrimental to the user than marijuana. The substances are not approved for human consumption and they are being marketed and sold as herbal incense. The popularity of these derivatives has grown among teens and young adults in recent years, and it’s available in gas stations, convenience and liquor stores and other businesses in Michigan.
“It’s almost an epidemic situation, so we want it out — the quicker the better,” Solden said.
The synthetic products contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that are responsible for psychoactive effects mimicking THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Some of the symptoms reported by Spice/K2 users include delusions; elevated blood pressure; elevated heart rate; hallucinations; heart palpitations; increased agitation; nausea; pale skin; burned lungs; panic attacks; seizures; vomiting; overdoses; and even death.
In recent weeks, a trio of cases have drawn public attention in Oakland County. One such case allegedly involves Tucker Cipriano, 19, and Mitchell Young, 20, who are facing multiple charges for the April 16 killing of Robert Cipriano, Tucker’s father, after allegedly smoking K2. The pair allegedly attempted to rob Tucker’s family home and in the process bludgeoned Robert and critically injured Tucker’s mother, Rose, and brother, Salvatore, with baseball bats.
In May, 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman of West Bloomfield was allegedly shot multiple times by his grandmother, Sandra Layne, who is being tried for his murder. Hoffman was allegedly using Spice.
Lastly, 18-year-old Oliver Smith was found dead near Wing Lake in Bloomfield Hills over the Memorial Day weekend, as an apparent result of a K2 overdose.
“It’s finally come to light how bad this stuff is and kids shouldn’t have easy access to it or have it at all, so we’re going to make sure it’s not for sale in Walled Lake,” Shakinas said.
The misdemeanor penalties for violating the ordinance would be a fine of not more than $500 and/or imprisonment for no more than 90 days.
In addition, the White Lake Township Board of Trustees decided to join other communities in the area in banning the sale or possession of synthetic marijuana in the township at an emergency board meeting on Thursday, June 7.
“Recently, we have been made aware of horrific crimes committed while the alleged perpetrators were under the influence of K2, Spice or bath salts which were purchased legally at a nearby convenience store,” said White Lake Supervisor Greg Baroni. “Many similar revelations have given legislators the impetus needed to research a way to combat this heinous chemical mix that many feel (is) not dangerous simply because it’s legal to purchase and/or possess.”
While certain forms of the drug have been rendered illegal, many forms of the synthetic marijuana are technically legal due to slight changes in the chemical formula for the products.
However, officials around the county, state, and country have been seeking ways to close that loophole.
Meanwhile, White Lake has decided to ban trafficking in, possessing, and using such products in the township with the intent to protect the public health and safety.
“This ordinance was adopted as an emergency ordinance to address the imminent danger and threat to the health and lives of the residents of White Lake Township,” Baroni said. “This ordinance gives the White Lake Police Department the ability to enforce and follow through banning these substances from our local stores and gas stations. This will also ensure conviction and the safety of the public.”
“We felt the issue was urgent enough,” said White Lake Clerk Terry Lilley. “People in the township have been talking about how it’s a detriment to kids. We were strong and united as a board about this measure.”
Although two trustees were absent — David Lewsley and Mike Powell — Lilley said he knew Lewsley was in favor of the measure and there was a “strong feeling” among all board members to approve the ban.
According to Baroni, immediately following the board’s approval of the ordinance, White Lake Police Chief Edward Harris directed his officers to give notice to convenience stores and gas stations that the ordinance was approved and to remove the substance from their shelves.
The adopted ordinance can be found at the township’s website, www.whitelaketwp.com, and included in the ordinance is an appendix of the banned synthetic cannabinoids.
Commerce officials aren’t planning on moving ahead with drafting a similar ordinance for the time being.
“We’ve had people wondering why we aren’t jumping on board with the bans against K2 and Spice like other communities,” said township Supervisor Tom Zoner. “Well, we don’t have our own police department like West Bloomfield. We contract with the (Oakland County Sheriff’s Department). So we are waiting to see what Oakland County and the state are working on for this issue. Whatever program they come up with, I suspect we would adopt.”