By Frank DeFrank, The Macomb Daily
Cloud 9 and other synthetic drugs deemed an “imminent danger” recently by county action are likely to be added to the list of substances banned by state law, county and state officials said.
State Rep. Marilyn Lane, a Democrat who represents Fraser, said the same legislation enacted into law in 2012 that made products like K2 illegal can be applied to new substances like Cloud 9.
The lawmaker said the process, which involves the Department of Community Health and other state agencies, is already under way. “We’re going to notify DCH to add a drug to the list,” Lane said.
Lawmakers anticipated synthetic drugs that contain different chemicals would periodically surface in different forms, so they included in the original legislation provisions to add the substances to the banned list by administrative action. Otherwise, Lane said, “It would be a moving target.”
Last month, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and William Ridella, health department director, signed an emergency order declaring Cloud 9 and similar substances an imminent danger to the health of county residents. The product is also sold under the names “Relax” or “Crown.”
Cloud 9 was blamed for sickening 23 teens and young adults who ingested the substance. Cloud 9 contains a compound called AB-PINACA, which officials described as a synthetic cannabinoid.
But because the substance was not considered controlled, the product was legal –- until the emergency order was signed.
The declaration made it illegal for retailers and individuals to sell the product. Violators could face six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $200.
The best method to deter use of the synthetic drugs may be through voluntary compliance by retailers. Hackel said the vast majority of business owners moved quickly to pull K2 from shelves in 2012, and he hopes for the same cooperation this time. Since the emergency order was issued Sept. 24, Hackel said he has heard no reports of any violations in Macomb County.
MIRA, a decades-old trade association that represents thousands of independent retailers in Michigan and Ohio, distributed a news release this week urging its members to refrain from selling synthetic drugs.
The association’s CEO Auday Arabo said the group was “instrumental” in helping get K2 banned in 2012.
“MIRA took a position early on this issue, working with legislation up until Gov. (Rick) Snyder signed a series of bills making K2 and other synthetic drugs illegal in Michigan,” said Arabo. “We are once again asking store owners not to sell this drug.” Stores selling the products need to be reported to local law enforcement or MIRA, he said.
“Retailers should be not be selling these products for any reason,” said Arabo.