Grand Rapids Police Chief: Expect a Synthetics Ordinance Soon

By KBJR News 1

July 20, 2013 Updated Jul 20, 2013 at 12:19 PM CDT

Grand Rapids, MN (NNCNOW.com)-- Duluth city leaders are praising their new ordinance, licensing the sale of synthetic drugs, saying it is necessary to tackle a deadly problem.

Now, other cities in the Northland are looking at similar city action, including the Grand Rapids community where treatment expert say the problem is out of control.

"I consider a pandemic of emergency status."

Robert Hyatt, a chemical dependency counselor at Hope House says the problems with synthetic drugs are immediate and severe to the user.

"It's highly addictive and the negative effects it creates are rather immediate," said Hyatt. "It doesn't take time for use. Sometimes the first use can create irreversible psychosis."

Hyatt says the legal status and the availability of the drug is creating a dangerous situation in Grand Rapids.

Police Chief Jim Denny says any situation involving synthetics is unpredictable.

"It's definitely a problem," said Denny. "You're dealing with an unknown when you're dealing with someone admittedly on synthetics."

The city's solution to deal with the problem is local action.

"I would suspect you'll see something present to our council for approval sometime within the next few weeks."

Denny anticipates a city ordinance to be drafted, similar to cities like Duluth and Moorhead, possibly licensing the sale of synthetic drugs.

"It's a creeping contagion that's taking people out. It's destroying lives," said Hyatt.

Action that Hyatt says is mandatory to loosen the grip of synthetic drug addiction.

Police say that the Tobacco Den in Grand Rapids sells the synthetic drug 'incense' but when we asked the owner of that shop, he said they stopped selling. He wouldn't provide a reason why, or a detailed timeline.

He also would not agree to an on camera interview.

Zach Vavricka

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