Synthetic marijuana is one signature away from being banned in Wisconsin.
A bill banning the substance passed the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly last week and is now awaiting the signature of Gov. Scott Walker.
The statewide measure came about four months after the city of Reedsburg failed to ban the substance, often called K2 incense, which mimics the effects of marijuana and can be dangerous.
The local Ordinance Committee voted against enacting a local ordinance by 3-2 vote on Feb. 28.
Russ Ziegler, a citizen member of the committee at that time, said in February that he didn’t believe the city should enact an ordinance stricter than state laws concerning controlled substances; he was one of the three who voted against it.
Police Chief Tim Becker wanted the committee to consider the ordinance again at a meeting earlier this week, because two of the five members are new.
But when the Senate and Assembly passed a similar bill last Wednesday, Becker said it made more sense to simply wait for Walker’s signature than to go through the multi-week process locally.
“It’s not as comprehensive as ours, but I think it’ll do the job,” Becker said of the state act.
Alderman Dave Knudsen, who still serves on the Ordinance Committee, argued in February that it would be too difficult to enforce an ordinance that prohibits the possession, sale and use of a substance that it had no way of detecting.
The act would ban the possession of synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K-2 incense or spice. Although selling it wouldn’t necessarily be illegal, possession would be, so stores wouldn’t be allowed to carry it.
K-2 incense is currently sold in some novelty stores, including one in Sauk County.
“The big thing is to keep it out of stores,” Becker said. “The less it’s offered, the less we’ll see it.”
Once the act is signed into state law, Becker said, the Reedsburg Ordinance Committee will likely consider adopting it into its own ordinance book so that local police can handle first-time offenders. That state act currently lists a maximum fine of $1,000, up to six months in prison, or both for first-time synthetic marijuana offenders.