Police chief may ask City Council to ban sale of synthetic cannabinods ('spice')

LACONIA — Police Chief Christopher Adams said earlier this week that the Police Department is looking into whether or not a ban on selling of "spice" (synthetic cannabinods) in the city is warranted.

Adams said the discussion has been triggered by a recent spike in "spice" overdoses around the state. There has been no fatalities but Adams said the 10 to 12 people who called emergency services in Laconia were sickened enough by the drug to call for help.

Recent increases in "spice overdoses" caused Gov. Maggie Hassan to issue a state of emergency that allows public health officers to investigate and quarantine on particular brand (Smacked) and flavor (bumblegum) flavor of spice.

Adams said that to the best of his knowledge, there are no merchants in Laconia selling spice. He said he may be sending undercover officers into local stores to try and buy it but said no stores in the city have spice on open display. For the duration of the governor's state of emergency, he said police have the right to seize it.

"Spice" is a street name for what is marketed as herbal incense that is often sprayed or treated with synthetic chemicals that can create a marijuana-type high when smoked.

Medical professionals say smoking "spice" can cause hallucinations, extreme anxiety, nausea, and possible cardiac arrest.

The packaging says that "spice" is not for human consumption and while federal authorities have made many of the chemical ingredients illegal, manufacturers of the incense often make small changes to the chemical composition to skirt federal law.

In her state of emergency declaration, Hassan noted that federal authorities fear the money sold from online "spice" purchases has gone to organizations in Yemen, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Last year the town of Gilford followed the towns of Tilton and Franklin in banning the sale of synthetic cannabinoids. Belmont Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said the selectmen adopted a similar ordinance on June 16 at the recommendation of the police chief.

Adams said that should his department feel it is necessary to ban the sale of the drug, the ordinance would have to be approved by the City Council.

He also said he would hope that local merchants would not sell a product that is clearly dangerous.