“Bath salts” are now a banned substance in the city of Wapakoneta.
With passage of an ordinance regarding an epidemic of the designer drugs, “bath salts” and other synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic drugs can no longer be sold, purchased or used in the city of Wapakoneta. Wapakoneta City Council members suspended the rule of three readings and passed the ordinance as an emergency to permit the legislation to take affect immediately.
Councilor-at-large Thomas Finkelmeier Jr, who chairs the Health and Safety Committee, requested the ordinance, modeled after one passed earlier this year by the city of Mansfield, be adopted during Monday’s meeting.
He said he and his fellow committee members did not want to wait until the General Assembly passed its legislation.
“House Bill 127 is still weaving its way through the Legislature and it is likely the state will take action, and to keep our codified ordinances
clean when the state passes this bill then I will ask for its repeal,” Finkelmeier said. “For the short time, Police Chief Russ Hunlock was quite clear that he would like to have the ability to stop the sale and have the strength of law to make sure none of this can be sold legally in our community.
“Many of his stories about the abuse of these bath salts were troubling,” he said.
Finkelmeier noted Hunlock reported incidents have risen through the year to officers handling two to three cases each week.
Councilor-at-large Steve Walter, a member of the Health and Safety Committee, said they had an ethical obligation to act.
“I don’t think we can defer to what the state may or may not do and when they may do it,” Walter said. “I believe we have an obligation to our community to act on this and I encourage your support.”
Wapakoneta 3rd Ward Councilor Bonnie Wurst, the third member of the Health and Safety Committee, said she strongly urged councilors’ support of the ordinance.
Hunlock welcomed passage of the legislations — for his officers and the safety of local residents.
“This means a lot in terms of allowing us to do our job,” Hunlock said. “I hope it will decrease the number of incidents we have in the city since it is not only illegal to sell it, but to possess it and to use it.
“We should be able to deal with the problem better since we can address those people who are using it and it should be less available in the city,” he said. “Once the word gets out, I am hoping the number of incidents decrease.”
Councilors, by a 7-0 vote, suspended the rules and adopted the ordinance.
Wapakoneta is the third municipality in Auglaize County to ban bath salts following the village of New Bremen and the city of St. Marys. The village of Waynesfield also is considering legislation.