Politics

Emergency motion banning 'spice' heading to LA City Council

File: A man prepares to smoke
File: A man prepares to smoke "spice," a synthetic marijuana drug, along a street in East Harlem on Aug. 5, 2015 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander announced that he's putting forward an emergency motion to create an ordinance banning the sale, possession and transportation of the drug "spice" after more than 50 people are thought to have overdosed on the drug in Skid Row in recent weeks.

Spice is a cheap, synthetic cannabinoid that mimics the effects of marijuana, but can be much stronger and sell for much cheaper.

Englander told KPCC that he wants to quickly ban the drug, which is why he's using an emergency motion rather than having it go through committee.

"The existing laws were set forth by both the FDA, and then the state of California created one [ban]. Unfortunately, it was very specific on what spice and the chemical constituency and the makeup was. They've altered the chemical slightly, and now it doesn't fall within those parameters of the FDA," Englander said.

Englander said the ordinance would target after both users and distributors, but added that law enforcement is really after the distributors, manufacturers and retailers.

"It's just a matter of time before we have a death from this," Englander said.

Spice poses a greater public danger, Englander said, because events like the recent overdoses on Skid Row take city resources — including ambulances — away from other calls. It also creates congestion in emergency rooms, keeping resources from other patients.

"None of it's natural, unless it's just simply the oregano they're spraying it on," Englander said. "But it's putting chemicals like Raid, that are made to kill bugs on contact, and spraying it so people can get high, and then they're selling it very, very cheap."

The hope is to get an ordinance back from the city attorney as early as next week, Englander said, then vote on it. He also called on the public to reach out to loved ones and other people they know living on the street to get them help and resources to turn their lives around.