With a city-wide ban already in place, community leaders in Watertown are eyeing synthetic marijuana legislation making its way through Pierre.
With a Senate committee approving a bill banning synthetic marijuana
Wednesday, its days in South Dakota could be numbered. Under the proposal, anyone caught possessing or selling it faces a felony charge. The bill now moves on to the full Senate for a vote.
Watertown has had a ban in place since August 2010. But it's running into people legally buying it outside of town and then illegally bringing it into Watertown.
Law enforcement in Watertown is seeing an increased number of calls concerning synthetic marijuana. Several of those calls are coming from the users.
"They don't like the way that they're feeling, heart pounding out of their chest, nausea, becoming unconscious. Even some people are admitting themselves into the emergency room," Watertown Police Officer Nick Ahmann said.
After the city banned synthetic marijuana from its limits, the number of calls went down. But then they started seeing it pick up again around this past November or December.
The growing problem is one police are finding in a variety of age groups, including teenagers.
"It is dangerous in anybody that uses it. For one person, it could mimic marijuana; they could get high from it. And the next person could use it and have a very bad reaction," Ahmann said.
Problems like that prompted the ban in Watertown in the first place and have officers here paying attention to the state-wide proposal. The city law takes away the burden of proving that a person with synthetic pot intends to ingest it.
"If it's in their possession, it's against our city ordinance, which makes it easy to enforce," Ahmann said.
The Watertown ban uses broad language to cover all products that mimic marijuana.