St. Petersburg City Council passes spice synthetic drug ban

8:59 PM, Apr 4, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - Spice packages may be bright and colorful and cheery, but the chemicals inside can produce quite the opposite. 

"Some get angry, some get sweaty, some are running," says Momma Tee Lassiter.

After seeing people high on spice, Lassiter, a long-time community activist and former drug addict, says she is glad that St. Petersburg is banning the substance. She hates to see it in stores, especially because the packaging seems to target children.

"Back in the day we didn't have anything like spice, where they made it attractive and pretty and it wasn't a thing where you could just walk into a store," she said.

In March, St. Petersburg Police raided Williams Park, with its nickname of "Spice City," and last week they also arrested a convenience store owner for selling it.

But combating spice has been tough, because spice makers can skirt state law by simply changing the chemical recipe. However, on Thursday, the city council passed a spice ban giving police another tool.

"As parents, as grandparents, as family members, we don't want it in the city," said Councilman Charlie Gerdes after the vote. "We don't want our young people getting a hold of it, we don't' want anybody getting a hold of it."

The city ordinance uses broader language than the state ordinance. It writes about packaging and intended use, rather than chemical compounds. 

Mayor Bill Foster says the goal is to get spice off store shelves.  "To let vendors know that we're going to be out looking for it; if we find it, you can be arrested, but you know-we're going to take it," Foster said.

The ordinance authorizes a $500 fine for a single violation and it's modeled after similar laws in Pasco and Hillsborough counties.

Follow 10 News Reporter KathrynBursch on twitter @Kathryn Bursch

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