Cartersville passes 'emergency' synthetic marijuana ordinance
by Jessica Loeding and Neil McGahee
Nov 08, 2013 | 2523 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Through an emergency move Thursday night, the Cartersville City Council adopted an ordinance declaring a ban on all synthetic cannabinoids and unregulated marijuana substitutes.

The ordinance, which directly mirrors the regulation passed by Bartow County two months ago, closes the loophole in state law, which targets specific chemical compounds.

“It strengthens the state law and fills in the gap,” Cartersville Assistant Chief of Police Frank McCann said in a work session prior to the council meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Dianne Tate asked during the session whether changing the name, packaging or makeup will bypass the ordinance under consideration.

“That’s the beauty of the ordinance, ma’am. We’re not going to follow a chemical composition whatsoever,” Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force Commander Capt. Mark Mayton said. “If they’re selling it under the pretenses that they’re using it for so-called synthetic marijuana, they’re in violation of the code section. They can change the names of those packages daily. ... We’re not going to go by the what state law is now, which is a specific chemical composition. All the companies are doing over in China, they’re changing the molecules, circumventing the current laws we have on the books and they’re putting it right back on the shelves.”

Mayton said the ordinance was drafted from several around the country and fills in the gap for the short term until the state Legislature passes a total ban on synthetic substances, urging the council to pass the measure as an emergency declaration. “... I do believe it to be an emergency. It directly relates to our public health, to our citizens and our children.”

“When you put the ink on the paper, we are going to start getting ready to write tickets. What we will probably do is what we did with the county ordinance,” he said. “We take about a week after it’s signed, we’ll draft the letter we done in the county and apply it to the city, saying to all the convenience stores, ‘Here’s a copy of the ordinance. Here’s the consequences if you don’t comply with it.’ We’ll give them another week to comply with it, and then we’re going to start issuing citations and taking people to jail if need be.”

During the regular meeting, McCann requested the council pass the ban as an emergency.

Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini explained the emergency move would speed up the process for passing such an ordinance.

“Typically ordinances take two readings, but we can declare an emergency — and it has been requested at this time — so if council is of the ... mind, they can go ahead and approve this first reading on emergency basis for public health and safety,” Santini said.

The council passed the ban unanimously.

“Kudos for being on the front end of that,” Santini told law enforcement representatives present.

The council also approved the required annual capitol improvements element resolution regarding impact fees.

“The city adopted an impact ordinance fee back in 2006 which is a surcharge levied on new building construction,” explained planning and development director Randy Mannino. “However, due to the economy, the city never charged a fee although we have the ability to charge it if needed. If you have an impact fee ordinance, the state requires you to report an annual update to the comprehensive plan to remain in compliance.”

The city coffers coughed up quite a bit of cash.

Assistant City Manager Dan Porta requested $55,155 for the purchase and installation of a fiber optic line at the Center Road water tank. The line will provide constant monitoring of the tanks’s water level.

Other expenditures approved by the council included:

• $19,810 for annual membership dues in the Northwest Georgia Regional Council

• a change order for sewer manhole installation originally budgeted at $28,600 was increased to $41,000

• a change order for a water treatment plant valve originally budgeted at $76,000 was increased to $134,167.50

• $7,545 for renewal fees for asset management software and training

• $418,265 for a 24-inch sewer replacement on Center Road.

Council also approved zoning and annexation requests for properties at 217 Cassville Road, the southeast corner of Douthit Ferry and Old Mill roads and at 310 N. Tennessee St.

The Cartersville City Council will hold its next meeting on Thursday, Dec. 5, at 9 a.m. to avoid conflict with that night’s downtown Christmas parade.