Walkersville looks into synthetic marijuana ban

WALKERSVILLE — Walkersville could become the third municipality in Frederick County to ban synthetic marijuana as town leaders consider an ordinance that would make sale of the drug illegal in the town.

During a public meeting Wednesday night, Commissioner Chad Weddle introduced an ordinance that will be presented at a public hearing next month.

“We are trying to be proactive instead of reactive,” Weddle said in an interview.

On Wednesday, the council unanimously voted to introduce the ordinance at a public hearing. Weddle said the document is modeled after the ordinance that was passed in the city of Frederick.

The ordinance in Frederick, passed on Nov. 1, punishes violators with up to 90 days of imprisonment and $1,000 fine, but in Walkersville, the penalties could be lessened.

Weddle said the town may opt for 30 days of imprisonment instead of 90. Otherwise, the ordinance is virtually identical to Frederick’s.

For now, the sale of synthetic marijuana is not a problem in Walkersville, Weddle said. He said he didn’t know of any store in town where it is being sold.

On Wendesday night, Burgess Ralph Whitmore showed his support for banning the products, frequently sold as Spice or Scooby Snax potpourri. Though the products are labeled not for human consumption, people have used them like marijuana.

“Since they are being run out of Frederick and out of Thurmont, they are going to try to find some place to sell it,” Whitmore said.

Whitmore then agreed to move forward with the introduction of the ordinance with little discussion.

“I have no problem with it, if you have no problem with it,” Whitmore told commissioners.

About a month ago, Thrumont became the first municipality in the county to ban synthetic drugs. Thurmont Mayor Martin Burns and town commissioners unanimously approved a seven-page ordinance banning the distribution, manufacture, sale, possession, trading, transporting or consumption of synthetic drugs in the town.

In Thurmont, a violation of the synthetic drug ordinance is a municipal infraction and carries a penalty of $250.

Each day of violation is deemed a separate violation. For the right-of-entry violation, which means an officer faces interference in inspecting the premises, will have a penalty of $150 per violation.

Once an administrative warrant is obtained, any interference will face a penalty of $1,000 for each violation.

In Frederick, a violation of its anti-Spice ordinance is a criminal misdemeanor. The maximum punishment is a fine of $1,000 and 90 days in jail for each offense.

The city took action after a group of parents, residents and business owners showed up to meeting outraged about the drug.

A public hearing in Walkersville will be held next month, Weddle said.

“We are hopeful that the state and federal government with pick this issue, so that we as local towns don’t have to,” Weddle said.

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