The Lubbock City Council approved a ban on synthetic marijuana Feb. 14, but there will be a 30-day period before the ordinance goes into effect, which will provide businesses a chance to rid their shelves of these products.
Several businesses are still in the process of selling the rest of their inventories, so the substance can still be purchased at some locations.
Rhonda Hamilton, the owner of Smoke Headshop on University Ave., said they are looking to sell their inventory prior to the 30-day deadline, which hit March 8.
An employee at the Smoke Headshop said there was a flood of people coming in to purchase the substance since its ban in February. The employee also stated the shop’s concern for what it might do for business, citing that most of the store’s recent business has stemmed from the sale of these substances.
The employee also said people were coming in to the store and buying large amounts of these products, and one individual purchased the entire amount the store had of a particular brand of this synthetic substance.
Prior to the City Council’s second reading of the ordinance, Mayor Pro Tem Karen Gibson said she had heard from smoke shop owners who were upset with the potential ban.
“I’ve gotten a letter from one of the smoke shop owners, and obviously they don’t want us to ban it,” she said. “It’s a big business.”
According to that letter written to the City Council, Shon Ross, vice president of the marketing corporation overseeing Lubbock’s Nothin’ Butt Smokes tobacco store, hoped the council would reconsider its stance on the ordinance saying it was “grounded in vagueness.”
Despite the wishes of Ross and other owners of smoke shops, the City Council passed the ordinance 6-0 after the second reading. Mayor Glen Robertson left the meeting before the council voted on it.
Gibson said Robertson would have been the only individual to vote against the ordinance, but not because he opposed it, rather, he favored an age limit be placed on it instead.
A subsection of the ordinance was removed Feb. 14 through vote which would have prohibited “any substances similar to the above described which, when inhaled or otherwise ingested, may produce intoxication, stupefaction, giddiness, paralysis, irrational behavior, or which, in any manner, changes, distorts or disturbs the auditory, visual or mental process of the user when the substance has no other legitimate, non-narcotic purpose.”
Beginning 30 days after Feb. 14, the sale, use and possession of the substance will result in a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $2,000 for businesses or organizations or a $500 fine for individuals.