An emergency bill that would give the Frederick County Board of Commissioners the authority to ban synthetic cannabinoids, or “spice,” is one of several similar measures that will be taken up by the General Assembly this session.
The county bill was introduced Monday, with a hearing scheduled in the House Judiciary Committee for Feb. 12.
The committee already had a hearing on a bill that would ban the substance statewide, according to Del. Michael Hough (R-Dist. 3B) of Brunswick, who serves on the panel.
Hough said it was clear from the hearing that other parts of the state are also dealing with the same problem.
Testimony showed that spice was being sold at a number of gas stations in Anne Arundel County, among other places, according to Hough.
That bill would add the chemicals used to create spice to the state’s list of controlled dangerous substances that cannot be used, possessed or sold.
Similar legislation has been introduced in the past two years, but has died in committee.
A similar law passed last year that went into effect in October added chemical compounds known as “bath salts” to the state’s list of Schedule One controlled substances.
The county bill emerged as a request from the commissioners as part of their annual legislative package after Frederick, Thurmont and Walkersville banned the substances, and residents expressed concern about sellers moving into the unincorporated parts of the county.
The drugs — which are synthetic cannabinoids that can mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana — are also known as K2, Genie and a host of other names.
The bill would allow the county commissioners to adopt an ordinance that prohibits the possession or sale of the products.
As emergency legislation, it would take effect immediately upon being passed and signed by the governor.
Members of the county’s eight-member delegation are hopeful that the bill will benefit from “local courtesy,” in which lawmakers offer little opposition to other delegations’ parochial bills.
Del. Patrick Hogan (R-Dist. 3A) of Frederick said it will be hard to get a sense of whether the bill has any opponents until the hearing. But he is hopeful it will receive local courtesy.
Sen. Ron Young (D-Dist. 3) of Frederick said he hasn’t heard that anyone will oppose the bill.
Young, Hogan and Del. Galen Clagett (D-Dist. 3A), of Frederick, also plan to propose a bill that would ban synthetic cannabinoids statewide.
Young said he was aware of at least one other spice-related bill in the Senate.
A statewide bill would make the county’s bill unnecessary, he said.
Clagett said the bill allowing the county to ban the substance was the delegation’s priority, to prevent people selling it from moving out of the municipalities into the county.
“It’s drugs on wheels,” he said.
Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R) said he hasn’t heard about any resistance to the county’s bill.
He said the county’s lack of authority to pass an ordinance has hindered it in the fight against spice.
“The fact is, there’s a loophole when it comes to this stuff,” he said.