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Council moves to ban ‘spice’

LACONIA — The City Council voted unanimously to pass a ban on the sale or possession of "spice" or synthetic cannibinoids commonly sold as incense.

A second reading including a public hearing will be held on November 10.

"This is a major problem in the state," said City Manager Scott Myers, who added that many surrounding communities have already banned the sale of spice.

Police Chief Chris Adams said Laconia has seen six non-fatal overdoses in the city. He said the chemicals are unregulated, meaning no one who consumes spice knows what it is they're ingesting.

"We don't want this in our community," he said.

Adams noted that the police have made spot checks in stores both undercover and in uniform and haven't found any for sale.

That statement, and the fact that there is no empirical evidence regarding the danger of the chemicals the city seeks to ban, made Councilor David Bownes question the need for the ordinance.

He said he wasn't necessarily against the ordinance nor was he against protecting the youth of the city but in his mind "it's a panic reaction that started in the governor's office." He said he was leery about imposing sanctions on something when the Council doesn't really know what it is.

"People are dying..." said Councilor Henry Lipman, who said the city should try to limit spice's influence. He also noted that if the city didn't pass the ordinance, it would be the only community in the immediate area where the product could be legally sold.

Councilor Bob Hamel said he'd been looking at an ordinance banning spice for about two years and said it was "better than doing nothing."

Councilor Armand Bolduc echoed Hamel and agreed that Laconia should pass the ordinance. "We're not going to put up with it," he said

Anyone found to be in violation of the ordinance, should it pass at its second reading, will be fined $500 per violation. Police can also confiscate and destroy as they see fit any substance that fits the criteria defined in the ordinance.

Spice or incense is marked as "not for human consumption" however its use as a synthetic and legal substitute for marijuana is wide spread.

About two years ago, Tilton became the first Lakes Region community to ban the sale and possession of it. Franklin, Gilford and Belmont soon followed suit.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 01:17

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Pedestrian hit by vehicle when crossing Beacon St. East

LACONIA — A woman sustained minor injuries yesterday evening when she was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Beacon Street East and Church Street.

According to a press release issued by Laconia Police, a 56 year-old woman was walking eastbound on Church Street, toward Messer Street. She was struck at the intersection of Beacon St. East by a vehicle that was turning left onto Church Street. Police reported that witnesses, as well as the driver of the vehicle, said the traffic light was green for vehicles turning on to Church Street and red for pedestrians crossing the intersection.

The woman was transported to Lakes Region General Hospital with what was described as minor injuries to her right lower back and hip. The driver remained on scene to speak with police.

Police remind all pedestrians to obey traffic controls and only cross when directed by the Walk Light. Failure to do so can result in a ticket or cause an accident.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 12:41

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In Laconia, Shaheen pledges to work for middle-class families

LACONIA — With her race to hold her seat in the United States Senate against the challenge of Republican Scott Brown tightened to a toss-up, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen stopped here yesterday after her campaign whisked through Berlin, Littleton and Plymouth earlier in the day.

More than a hundred supporters crowded the American Legion hall to share the chili whipped up by their hosts, the Laconia Professional Firefighters, and the fiery rhetoric to match from Shaheen and her traveling companion Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland.

Dave Lang, president of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire, urged everyone to think like firefighters and prepare and respond to the "next call" on election day, Nov. 4, by telling family, friends and neighbors how much is at stake and being sure to go to the polls.

Recalling her tenure in the New Hampshire Senate and three terms as governor, Shaheen vowed to serve middle-class families and small businesses as she has throughout her career. She charged that Brown, who served in the Senate from Massachusetts, has "worked for the big guys — international corporations, Wall Street banks, and oil companies. She said that while she backed legislation to expand credit to small enterprises, Brown voted to grant subsidies of $19 billion to banks and $20 billion to oil companies.

She said that she wants to strip corporations of rewards for outsourcing jobs overseas, but Brown serves on the board of directors of a firm that does just that. She stressed her support for raising the minimum wage and ensuring women equal pay for equal work, both of which Brown opposed.

O'Malley, who as a recent college graduate worked with Shaheen on the presidential campaign of Gary Hart in 1983, underlined that "there is a really clear choice here." Echoing a recurrent refrain in Democratic campaigns, he said that large corporations and special interests have the best lobbyists money can buy, and added: "They don't need to buy your senator as well." He described Shaheen as not the senator from, but the senator for New Hampshire and rallied his listeners to vote next week.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 01:26

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At Huot Center forum, Hassan says substance abuse is ‘full-community challenge’

LACONIA — Gov. Maggie Hassan told a group of high school students yesterday that the state has received a grant for a prescription drug monitoring program that was passed into law two years ago but never funded by the Legislature.

Hassan said she is working with other New England governors to create a program that will allow individual states to share the information in a regional effort to stop "doctor shopping."

She also said there is a need for more mental health services, and with the Medicaid expansion, more people, including young people, could have access to mental health services before they turn to drugs to make them feel better.

"This is a full-community challenge, and it will take a full community to address it," Hassan said.

Hassan made her comments as the guest of honor at a round table discussion hosted at the Huot Technical Center yesterday attended by a panel of local anti-drug and mental health advocates from Laconia and Franklin.

Hassan also spoke briefly about spice or synthetic cannibinoids.

In August, she declared a state of emergency after 41 people in Manchester suffered "serious medical reactions," half of them requiring treatment in hospitals, from using spice.

Prior to the discussion, students had prepared a number of questions for the panel, including one student who wanted to know where, other than the public library, older teens could go and "hang out" in a drug-free environment.

Police Chief Chris Adams fielded that one by telling them that there is a new room at the Boys and Girl's Club on North Main Street that has activities for older students like ping-pong, pool and television. He noted that recently the older teens have been one of the target groups for the club.

"We lost the teen population, and we really want to get it back," he said.

Student Sophia Joyal told Hassan about Freedom Found – an ad hoc group of students who are not necessarily members of one of the many cliques at school - who meet regularly for outings, who stand up to bullying, and who help out some of the grass roots programs like Stand Up Laconia.

Hassan replied that Freedom Found was a "great name" for an organization. "Democracy is when people take actions," she said, adding that New Hampshire is a state that cherishes its freedoms.

She told the students and their adviser, guidance councilor Phil Reed, that their model is one that other communities and the state should follow.

"We're always looking for the best practices that don't cost a lot of money," Hassan said.

Also joining Hassan, were two parents who lost their children to drug overdoses. She assured them that the funds for the N.H. Drug Task Force will be included in her budget.

Hassan also had a personal message for the students. She said she hears a lot of casual discussion between young people about drugs, but that the discussion isn't a causal topic.

"(Drug abuse) is a serious public health and public safety issue," she said. "It strains families, hurts productivity, and undermines safety."

Joining Hassan were state Sen. Andrew Hosmer, a representative from the Department of Corrections, Franklin City Manager Elizabeth Dragon, Clare Persson from Stand Up Laconia, and representatives from various local health and mental health agencies including the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health and mental health agency Genesis.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 01:22

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