Lubbock City Council will vote on a proposed synthetic drug ban Thursday night. It's the first of two votes for the proposal that could ban the sale, purchase, distribution and use of synthetics like spice, bath salts, and synthetic marijuana in Lubbock.
Not only are concerned parents and friends publicly speaking out about the dangerous side effects of these synthetics, Doctor Ted Reid, a biochemist at Texas Tech says the use of these drugs is a very serious problem, and it's a problem that continues to get worse.
"At the moment it looks like we almost have a patient a day coming into the emergency rooms here in Lubbock. Some of these patients are hospitalized for up to three months," Reid said. "Some doctors say their brains have turned to mush. It's a really bad situation."
Reid says they've seen patients as young as 12-years-old, and the majority of those who use the synthetics are high school age. With local smoke shops selling these products it's easy for someone to simply walk in and buy the synthetics or misbranded drugs that are labeled as potpourri or incense.
"The problem is we don't know what is in them exactly. There are 100 different compounds that all mimic marijuana and we don't know the doses they put in there," he said. "You see your friend take this stuff and he doesn't have a problem but that doesn't mean you're not going to. We are all genetically different."
Reid says they're also finding these synthetics can be addictive among other dangerous side effects.
These reasons, along with community outcry are why council is putting it to a vote. Mayor Glen Robertson says he won't be there to vote on the proposal because of recent health issues, but he says he would vote against the ban.
"This is something I'm really torn on. I'm 51% against it, and 49% for the ban," Robertson said.
He says the main reason he's against the proposal is because it's an overall ban of the synthetics for everyone including adults. While he feels the ban should make it illegal for those under the age 21, Robertson says he doesn't believe the council should regulate what adults do. However he does say he is happy something is being done to prohibit these products.
Robertson believes the council will vote unanimously for the ban on Thursday. A second vote will be needed to pass the proposition, which will take place during the first city council meeting in February. Robertson also says there will be a public hearing before Thursday's vote for anyone wanting to give their opinions or input on the proposed ban.