Cedar Rapids Looks to Find Way to Regulate Synthetic Drugs

By Jill Kasparie, KCRG-TV9

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The city wants to crack down on the sale and use of synthetic drugs, hoping to find a better way to regulate the substances.

Synthetic drugs, also known by names such as K2 or Spice, are sometimes sold in stores as incense or bath salts.

Federal drug authorities say the use of synthetic drugs among young people is alarmingly high. The 2012 Monitoring the Future Study of youth drug-use said one in every nine 12th-graders has reported used it.

The city is still in the early phases of researching a solution to the problem, but it is considering drafting a city ordinance.

Many believe something needs to be done. Stories about Synthetic drug use can be heard across Eastern Iowa.

“Our middle daughter — two years ago she started experimenting with the synthetic drug,” said Andrea Bell.

Bell, of Kalona, said her daughter, Olivia, is doing just fine now. The teen, however, had some close calls after she started using synthetic drugs when she was only 16.

“It completely destroyed our lives, not just hers, but our entire family was torn apart,” Bell said.

The stories don’t stop there. Cedar Rapids police have responded to a number of similar calls.

“It’s a very difficult issue right now because it’s so new, but we do know that we need to get a handle on this sooner than later,” said Cedar Rapids Police Department Chief Wayne Jerman.

The city gathered for a Public Safety Committee meeting Monday afternoon to discuss what needs to be done. Police are researching what other cities are doing to step up regulations.

“Some of the issues that we’ve run into is that it’s commonly for sale, readily available to whoever would want to use it — youth, adults, you know anybody that would like to get synthetic drugs. It’s legal for them to purchase it and use it, because they are changing the formula and the chemical makeup of the drug so often,” said Cedar Rapids Police Department’s Amanda Grieder.

The city said there’s no easy fix, but it plans on continuing to work with the city attorney’s office as they move forward.

Even though Andrea doesn’t live in Cedar Rapids, she supports anything that can help stop the growing problem.

“I hope it goes through, it needs to. It (synthetic drugs) kills kids every day,” Bell said.

Andrea said her daughter went through drug rehab and hasn’t used synthetic drugs in two years. She’ll graduate soon and plans to go to college.

KCRG-TV9 will keep you posted on future developments.

l Comments: 319-398-8268; jill.kasparie@kcrg.com

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