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Oceanside Ordinance Hopes To Restrict Fast-Changing Synthetic Drugs

Photo by Promise Yee

Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy, Feb. 26, 2016.

Oceanside is finding new ways to ban synthetic drugs sold at convenience stores.

A proposed city ordinance outlaws synthetic drugs that target young adults looking for a cheap high. The drugs skirt federal laws with ever-changing chemical compounds and labels that read “bath salts” and “glass cleanser.”

The federal Drug Enforcement Agency has not been able to keep up with the rapidly changing chemical compounds of the drugs. This type of synthetic drug was first seized by U.S. Customs in 2008. To date, more than 150 derivatives of the drug have been manufactured and sold. Federal laws control 26 derivatives.

Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy said police are left to deal with the outfall of drug use, which includes traffic accidents and violent behavior.

The proposed city law lists 94 chemicals and their derivatives, McCoy said.

“The chemists will change (the drug's composition) ever so slightly so that it won't meet the definitions of a crime, and that’s one of the reasons why the city of Oceanside has gone to such lengths to make our ordinance so in-depth," McCoy said. "Even if they do change the chemical compounds, the substance will still be illegal in our city.”

McCoy said the ordinance will be a powerful tool to help close the enforcement loophole.

“Our goal is to ensure the safety of our community, and we felt that this ordinance, being enacted and approved by city council, will help us to be able to ensure this type of drug is harder to come by in our community," McCoy said. "It won't be sold here in this community, those who are in position of it can either be arrested or cited for being in possession of it."

Oceanside will vote March 2 on final adoption of the ordinance.

Oceanside is the first city in San Diego County to move forward with such an in- depth ordinance to stop sales and possession of "bath salts." California cities that have laws in place include Los Angeles, Redlands, Victorville, Rialto, Highland, Upland and Twenty Nine Palms.

Promise Yee is a North County freelance writer. Contact her at Twitter: @promisenews.

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