Public Questions Impact of Odessa's Synthetic Drug Ordinance

Public Questions Impact of Odessa's Synthetic Drug Ordinance

Anum Valliani
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The Odessa City Council made headway in their fight against synthetic drugs.

In Tuesday's meeting, council members unanimously voted to ban possession of deceiving packages and the consumption of the material inside of it.

Although it seems there's generally a positive spirit that the city is intervening on the issue, some people think this is going to do little to solve the problem.

"If they ban it, it won't stop the use of it, like with regular weed, if you can't buy it, they're gonna find another way around it. If they can't buy the fake stuff, they're gonna make a new fake stuff and you start all over again," Odessa resident, Terrell Brown, said.

Councilwoman Sandra Carrasco said this motion was in the works for a while.

"We had a lot of public people coming up to us and telling us their stories. Mothers, their children pleading with us, telling us to do something about it," Carrasco said.

Officials say 14 percent of West Texans are testing positive for the toxic chemicals, whereas nationwide it's seven percent.

"That tells you they are using it here double then in the whole nation, so I'm hoping this ordinance does put a dent in it," the councilwoman said.

But it isn't just up to businesses to change. Officials say that people have voiced that it is up to the parents to ensure kid's safety.

"Watch out what our kids are doing and be active in their lives. We have to be responsible in getting that stuff off the streets to where our kids can't get a hold of it," Carrasco said.

So shops can no longer sell the product if they're within 800 feet of schools, church, parks, the mall and basically most other kid-friendly places.

"If the store still wants to make money they're like gonna sell it illegally, like 'Hey I still got some in the back, come on back, here give me some extra money and I'll get you some,'" Brown said.

Now all of the packages have to be clearly labeled with each substance, a warning and proper manufacturing information. Additionally, three substances will be banned, regardless of the packaging. But Brown says that's not going to matter to users and how they think.

"The stuff in here's gonna get me high so I'm just gonna smoke it. I'm not gonna read the label, I'm just gonna buy," he said.

Each package will be treated as a separate violation and can get offenders paying up to $2,000 for each one.

"That'll stop it real quick. Big old fine like that. I'd be too afraid to even touch it or look at it. $2,000," Brown said.

NewsWest 9 attempted to speak with business owners but none were willing to go on camera. But Cloud 9 in Odessa sent NewsWest 9 the following statement: "We have been compliant with any laws thus far. We sell our merchandise only to adults, we don't allow minors to enter our establishment or use our drive thru." It goes on to say that, "We are just a business like many others. We contribute to our community in more ways than one and will continue to do so."

"We can't say that this is going to fix it all. I mean, all I can say is that it's the beginning of trying to do something as a community," Carrasco said.

Business owners have 30 days to get in compliance with the city and users, if they are found with the substance, can be charged with a misdemeanor.