BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER
The Ormond Beach City Commission is working towards a moratorium on synthetic drugs.
On Oct. 2, the commission sent a directive to city staff to craft resolution expressing the commission’s desire to ban the sale and distribution of synthetic drugs, as opposed to banning chemicals used to manufacture them.
As a result, the city will present the commission with a one-year moratorium, and City Mayor Ed Kelley said there’s also hope the state legislature will enact a complete ban that could go into effect in July.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has already made it illegal to buy, sell or possess some of the chemicals most frequently found in synthetic marijuana. But simply banning individual chemicals, Kelley said, often doesn’t eliminate the problem.
“They’ll change the compound and put in a different chemical in there, which is not banned,” Kelley said. “So they’re selling the same thing, with a different genetic makeup.”
Synthetic drugs are chemically produced and designed to mimic or even enhance the effects of natural drugs. They are usually marketed as a safer alternative but are often labeled as not being safe for human consumption.
Other than synthetic marijuana, one of the most common synthetic drugs is bath salts, which often contain amphetamine-like chemicals.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, poison centers across the nation responded to 3,200 calls related to synthetic marijuana and bath salts in 2010 and 13,000 calls in 2011, with 60% of cases involving patients under 25-years old.
A report from the federal government said side effects of synthetic drugs include chest pains, elevated blood pressure, panic attacks, extreme paranoia and even sleep deprivation-induced psychosis.
After learning about the side effects and health concerns associated with synthetic drugs, City Commissioner Rick Boehm said he “couldn’t get a moratorium in place fast enough.”
Grant for Environmental Learning Center to be submitted
The City Commission authorized the submission of a grant application to the Volusia ECHO program to request funds to assist the city in building an environmental learning center in Central Park.
“I certainly hope we get that ECHO grant and will be able to move forward and build an environmental learning center in Central Park,” Boehm said. “I mean, that’s exciting to me. I think it’ll be a great addition to the city.”
According to a draft of the grant application, the center will have classes showing school children and adults how a “green” building can be built, as well as classes about the environment.
The city’s grant application is requesting $200,000, which is reflected in the Capital Improvement Plan for the 2013-14 fiscal year, or half of the $400,000 estimated to build the center.
City to reduce environmental loan balance
Ormond Beach is amending a loan from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to reflect project costs being $509,382 less than originally anticipated.
The loan was for three projects: the Wastewater Treatment Plant Rehabilitation, the 2008 Lift Station Replacement Program and the Force Main Extension on U.S. 1.
The projects, and the costs, have been finalized and were less than the amount of the loan, which will be modified to reflect actual expenses.