Synthetic marijuana on Northland cities' radar
Following bans of synthetic marijuana in Duluth and Superior, Cloquet could be the next Northland-area community to ban the drug. "We'll have a discussion sometime in the next few meetings," Cloquet City Administrator Brian Fritsinger said Wednesday.
Following bans of synthetic marijuana in Duluth and Superior, Cloquet could be the next Northland-area community to ban the drug.
"We'll have a discussion sometime in the next few meetings," Cloquet City Administrator Brian Fritsinger said Wednesday.
Even the discussions could have an effect on whether synthetic marijuana is sold in the area. Jim Carlson, owner of the Last Place on Earth in Duluth, which still sells the drug, said he had considered opening a small store in other communities to get around Duluth's ban.
But he said Wednesday that is looking less likely since Superior enacted its own ban, with the Superior City Council voting 9-1 on Tuesday to ban the use, possession, sale and distribution of such products as K2, Spice, Genie and Yucatan Fire.
The products are sold as incense, but when smoked are said to produce a high similar to that of marijuana. Critics say they also can cause irrational or dangerous behavior and health risks.
At this point, there's no ban in Hermantown, Proctor or Cloquet, with the former two communities taking a wait-and-see approach.
"We were going to see what happened in Duluth," said Brad Tafs, a Hermantown city councilor. The issue isn't on the agenda this week, though, and Tafs added, "We really haven't talked too much about it."
In Proctor, "there has been no discussion on it at all," City Administrator James Rohweder said.
Proctor Police Chief Walter Wobig said, "Of course that is something that ought to be addressed," but added that he didn't think Proctor had any of the tobacco shops that might sell the synthetic product.
Although the same is true in Cloquet, Deputy Police Chief Terry Hill said, "I think the council's approach and the Police Department's approach is to be proactive about it."
Cloquet police will be compiling information and meeting with the city attorney before bringing anything to the council, Fritsinger said.
Meanwhile, Carlson hasn't decided whether to follow up on his threat to sue the city over the ban.
"We're looking into all the angles," he said. "I'm hoping in a few days to have a better idea on options. There are all kinds of options for us."
One option, Carlson said, would be to sell similar products not covered by the city of Duluth's ban.
"There's different compounds that aren't illegal under the ordinance. There's a product called Revolution that wouldn't be prohibited."
City ordinances often aren't as comprehensive as state and federal legislation, Carlson said.
The Duluth ordinance goes into effect Sept. 30, and in the interim, sales at the Last Place on Earth are only improving, Carlson said.
"Every time we get some press they go up more and more," he said.
He estimated sales of synthetic marijuana are between $5,000 and $6,000 per day and account for more than half of his store's sales.
A pound of the real stuff costs about $1,000, said Brad Wick, Duluth police public information officer.
Carlson said he thinks synthetic marijuana should be regulated. But he scoffs at the ban.
"Anybody that has tried this incense, they can't believe that the government's doing this," Carlson said.
But Todd Fedora, the city councilor who sponsored Duluth's ordinance, hopes the idea will continue to spread.
"I hope that this is the beginning of the wave to get the stuff banned in the area," Fedora said.