KIMBALL, Tenn. -- To combat the growing problem of synthetic drugs, city leaders are in the process of approving a city ordinance that would outlaw the drugs' possession, sale and delivery.
On Thursday, the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved the ordinance on first reading.
Kimball Attorney Billy Gouger said convenience stores and small grocery stores have been marketing the synthetic drug products, which may mimic the effects of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, in the past few years.
"The state law, up until about a year ago, didn't really address that," he said. "Scientists and chemists were creating artificial drugs and substances that really weren't outlawed by Tennessee state law."
There are now state laws in place to address synthetic drugs, Gouger said, but Kimball's ordinance will give the town "an additional level of control" over the problem.
"I think it's the responsibility of this board to do what we can to help eliminate these types of vices for anyone trying to consume this stuff," Mayor David Jackson said.
"There's enough stuff out there for kids to get into," Alderman Johnny Sisk said. "We don't need this."
Kimball's ordinance mirrors the state statute as far as definitions, the chemicals contained in the drugs, and provides for citation methods and penalties, Gouger said.
Officials said violators will face a $50 fine plus court costs, which is the maximum penalty that state law allows.
Though the consequences don't seem very harsh, Gouger said it gives the city's police "probable cause" to look for "other things that may result in greater criminal charges."
"It may open the door to greater things that may carry much harsher penalties and consequences," he said.
Jackson said officials with other municipalities have requested a copy of Kimball's ordinance for consideration in their towns.
The board will consider the ordinance on second reading at its next meeting on Jan. 5.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.