Ocean City Poised to Ban Synthetic Marijuana Substances

OCEAN CITY — A marijuana-imitating substance commonly called K2 incense will become illegal to possess within Ocean City’s town limits if Mayor Rick Meehan signs at today’s council meeting an emergency ordinance that comes after urging from Ocean City Police.

At its last work session, Chief Bernadette DiPino told the mayor and council the substance, which is marketed as an incense or aromatherapy product, is being sold again this year at various Boardwalk shops.

Ocean City Police addressed K2 incense concerns last summer by sending letters to merchants telling them to stop selling the product, but it was never made illegal in the town; that step wasn’t taken, since it was gone from store shelves. In March, the Drug Enforcement Agency added five kinds of synthetic cannabis — usually the substance that’s marketed as K2 incense, or Spice — to its list of controlled substances that are illegal to have. That change will last a year, while the government considers whether a permanent ban is called for.

Nevertheless, the little foil packets are back, sold alongside paraphernalia commonly used with marijuana and, on some occasions, a liquid product that is marketed as a drink that can help people pass a drug test, DiPino said.

The herbal substances look similar to marijuana and are sprayed with chemicals meant to imitate the active ingredient in the drug.

“This causes us great concern for the safety of our citizens and our visitors, especially of the younger people,” DiPino said.

DiPino asked that the ordinance covers the use of drug paraphernalia and other substances similar to K2. She said she believes the town needs to prove to the public that it has a zero-tolerance stance on the topic.

The council voted unanimously — with the exclusion of Joe Hall and Mary Knight, who were absent — to have City Solicitor Guy Ayres draw up an ordinance they could pass tonight and have Meehan sign as an emergency ordinance, which he agreed to do.

Councilman Doug Cymek told the chief she made the council’s decision “real easy” when she brought up the issue of overdoses. DiPino said police knew of five people who used K2 incense in Ocean City and overdosed on it, suffering ill effects.

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