The city of Ferndale is partnering with area businesses to keep synthetic marijuana off store shelves.
On Monday afternoon, Ferndale Police Chief Timothy Collins sent notices to about 30 local vendors asking for participation in an initiative that would discontinue the sale of synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K2 or Spice, in the city.
Officers from the Ferndale Police Department received "overwhelming support" for the initiative, with every business owner contacted complying with the request.
Collins said only one place was still selling it – and it agreed to immediately stop – and some others had stopped after learning of the recent incidents in media reports.
"We've got a good community where the people understand what's going on and have self-corrected it before we had to step in," Collins said.
The sale of K2/Spice has gained attention statewide, but especially in Oakland County, where it has been connected with high-profile homicide cases in Farmington Hills and West Bloomfield, as well as the death of a Bloomfield Township teen.
Collins said there have been no reported incidents in Ferndale involving synthetic marijuana, except one case where someone was found in possession of it – "but it's not illegal, so there's not much we could do," he said.
All local businesses participating in the initiative will receive an 8.5" x 11" placard declaring it has voluntarily elected not to participate in the sale or possession of synthetic marijuana or similar substances. The sign will contain the official seal of Ferndale and a signature of recognition by the chief of police.
Virginia Robinson, assistant to the president of Royal Gas and Oil Co., said Tuesday that its stores have never sold K2.
"Royal Gas and Oil has not ever sold any of these synthetic drugs at either or Royal Fuels location on Woodward or our BP at Nine Mile and Hilton Road and never would have considered selling them regardless of profit," she wrote in a statement.
Meanwhile, Ferndale officials and the city attorney are working to develop an enforceable ordinance that will ultimately prohibit the possession, use and sale of this type of substance within Ferndale’s city limits.
"To prohibit this at the local level, we must be 100 percent positive that we pass an ordinance that is legally sustainable and can actually be enforced," Collins said.
Oakland County Commissioner Craig Covey said Tuesday that he is watching the issue closely and believes something should be done on the state level. "To have every city have to do this on its own is very inefficient and will leave some people out ... This really needs to come from the state, and it should come quickly," he said.
Collins said state legislation may be slow coming because "it's like a moving target," with the substance constantly being altered to get around bans. He said there are ways around that problem, but a "good, solid, enforceable ordinance" could take a little more time – and the city is working on that now.
"We've ensured more time by making sure we don't have it being sold in our town," he said.
Signs of K2, Spice use
Parents concerned about their kids possibly using synthetic marijuana should watch out for drowsiness, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, an increase in appetite and an altered sense of time, Collins said.
He said people can also experience hallucinations using the substance, and warned the results can be devastating with the potential of drowning or walking out into traffic. The full extent of the effects is unknown, Collins said, because the substances are still being altered.
"The other problem is as the drug is chemically changed it may add more effects," he said. "Many of those things are unknown."