MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

July 13, 2013

City issues citations for synth pot

Convenience store, driver and two sickened by substance ticketed

Muskogee has issued its first citations for the use, sale or possession of synthetic cannabinoids since enforcement of a city ordinance began.

One convenience store owner, two people who were made ill and called 911 and one woman who wrecked her vehicle have all been cited, said Muskogee Police Department Public Information Cpl. Michael Mahan.

“For me this is the worst drug I’ve seen, almost as bad as PCP,” said Mahan, a 19-year police veteran.

The substance commonly called spice or incense, causes extreme side effects that include hallucinations, extreme anxiety, vomiting, elevated blood pressure and, in a few cases, heart attacks, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The city ordinance that declares sales, possession and use of synthetic cannabinoids a public nuisance.

Mahan said he’s seen first-hand the result of smoking spice or incense, including seeing a juvenile jump through a plate-glass window and a driver who reportedly had just smoked incense wreck his car, then jump out and run into traffic.

Mahan said incense or spice is suspected to have played a part in at least two deaths in Muskogee this year.

The new city ordinance bans the use, sale, possession or display of synthetic cannabinoids or incense in the city limits. It went into effect June 1, but a one-month grace period was given.

Those cited:

• Jessica Davis, 39, and Paul Davis, 38, both of Wagoner, received citations after they called 911 for medical assistance after smoking synthetic cannabinoids.

• Joy Michelle Swearingen, 44, of Warner, was cited after she was involved in a single-car crash in which she was a passenger and was found to be in a state of public intoxication and in possession of spice or incense.

•  MD Mahabbat Ali, 40, of Broken Arrow is the first convenience store owner to be cited since the ordinance took effect. Ali owns the Pop and Go convenience store at the corner of 24th Street and Okmulgee Avenue. Ali violated the ordinance by selling synthetic cannabinoids, Mahan said. Ali was cited and turned over all the substance he had for sale in the store, he said.

Since Monday, the Special Investigations Unit has been actively doing compliance checks at local stores, said SIU Supervisor Lt. Andy Simmons.

Biren Desai, owner of Sunshine Convenience Store, filed a request for a temporary injunction that would prevent enforcement of the ordinance.

Desai said he pulled the product off his shelves after the ordinance went into effect. However, his position is city has overstepped its authority by banning the substances that are not outlawed by the state.

Desai and his attorney, Chad Richardson, will meet for a conference with the judge in the case on July 25, according to court records.

According to the city ordinance, the fine for a first offense is $100, second is $300, for the third and every one after the fine is $500.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

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