By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer
City Councilors will consider a proposal next week that officials hope will stem the flow of synthetic drugs into Muskogee.
Assistant City Attorney Matthew Beese outlined the plan during Tuesday’s Public Works Committee meeting. Anyone found possessing or distributing a substance falling under the proposed blanket synthetic ban would be subject to a series of fines beginning at $100 for a first offense. A second violation would result in a $300 fine. Third and subsequent violations would result in a $500 fine. The goal, Beese said, is not to “fine someone to death,” but to protect the public.
Under the ordinance, the city would have the authority to seize products for testing. Because compounds are made illegal by the state as they are identified, the possibility exists, Beese said, that the seized items could be tested and found to be scheduled narcotics, which could result in a felony charge.
If passed at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the proposed ordinance would go into effect as soon as it was published and store owners believed to be selling the drugs were notified.
Beese called the ordinance the “most aggressive one in the state.”
“I want to thank the council for letting us be the leader of the pack on this,” Beese said. “Other cities can follow our lead.”
Beese said city police and Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office deputies face an enormous issue with the synthetic drugs.
Muskogee Police Lt. Andy Simmons spoke to the council and said there had been a nine-month investigation into area stores selling synthetic drugs.
Simmons said they would often have informants and undercover officers purchase the synthetic drugs with no problems, but the stores wouldn’t sell the exact same items to uniformed officers.
“They act like they don’t know what we’re talking about,” Simmons said.
Dr. Tracy Hoos, from Muskogee Children’s Clinic, praised the ordinance, calling it a huge step.
“There have been national cases where people have died from this stuff,” Hoos said. “It’s unregulated and untested and its so easy to get a hold of, and you can definitely die from it.”
Hoos said there are cases of teenagers having prolonged psychotic episodes during use of synthetic drugs, which he referred to as “highly addictive.”
Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or firstname.lastname@example.org.