Anyone caught possessing or selling "fake marijuna" in Port Washington could face hundreds of dollars in fines under an ordinance just approved by the Common Council.
This new law gives police the ability to issue citations for anyone caught possessing, selling, attempting to sell, distributing or using synthetic cannabinoid, which also also goes by names such as "K2," "spice," "blaze," "genie" and "new marijuana."
The penalties vary based on the offense. Those cited with possession would get a lesser fine, between $100 and $500, and those ticketed with selling or distributing the substance could be fined $500 to $1,000.
The ordinance also includes a clause that, should the substance ever be determined to have a medicinal, prescribed use, people who have a legitimate prescription would not be ticketed.
Until the ordinance was approved, police could not charge someone found with this substance, and Police Officer Kurt Knowski said that becomes problematic when members of the department come across the fake marijuana in the city — which has already happened.
In one such incident, a driver involved in a vehicle accident had been under the influence of fake marijuana; in another instance, a group of teenagers were found with a 26-gram bag of the substance.
All police could do was confiscate the fake pot.
Though the substance looks similar to the real thing, it does not smell like marijuana and creates different side effects in users.
Officer Jerry Nye has dealt with people in the community using the substance, and said while users of the real marijuana are typically mellow and laid back, users of “fake” marijuana show more aggressive, belligerent behavior and are much harder to control than a normal marijuana user.
City Attorney Eric Eberhardt said its long-term effects on people can hardly be known because it has not been tested in humans. He did say the substance is known to affect the central nervous system, elevate blood pressure, cause pale skin and vomiting. It also can affect the cardio vascular system, causes potentially life-threatening hallucinations and, in some cases, causes seizures.
In approving the ordinance last week, aldermen again thanked Knowski for bringing the issue to the city's attention. Alderman Dan Becker said he plans to bring a draft of the ordinance to the Ozaukee County Board's attention as well.