City bans ‘synthetic marijuana’

4-1-1 council vote ends (for now) squabble over Chamber of Commerce records
Reporter Editor

Synthetic marijuana is marketed under K2, variety of other names. Synthetic marijuana is marketed under K2, variety of other names. It may be fake marijuana but there are now real penalties for possessing it in Rockdale.

City Council members Monday voted unanimously to ban synthetic marijuana, an increasingly popular substance in current drug culture and one that has already appeared in town, according to Police Chief Thomas Harris.

That ban is effective immediately.

The council also put a formal end, at least for now, to a four-month quest by council member Toby Johnson to demand check register records from the Rockdale Chamber of Commerce.

Council members voted 4-1-1 in favor of councilman Allan Miller’s motion that records currently being provided by the Chamber to the city are in compliance with the contract between the city and Chamber.

FAKE POT— Police Chief Thomas Harris told the council the newest craze to hit the drug world, synthetic cannabinoid, has appeared on the shelves of at least one local convenience store.

“We’ve also stopped one person on the street who had it,” he said.

Harris said synthetic marijuana is sold as “incense” but is smoked like the real thing.

“It’s so new there’s not a state law against it yet but you can bet there will be once the legislature meets again,” he said.

A number of states have already banned the substance.

Synthetic marijuana is sold under the names K2, Spice, Demon, Genie, Zohai and many other brands.

Medical researchers say the substance produces symptoms ranging from soaring heart rates to paranoia to near-death experiences.

It also elevates blood pressure and causes anxiety, researchers say.

SQUABBLE— Johnson renewed her quest to obtain check register information from the Chamber of Commerce.

“I was told I was going to get them and I haven’t seen them yet,” she said.

Johnson also questioned other records she said should be provided by Chamber President Denice Doss including “post event reporting” on tourism funds expenditures.

Doss was not present but six members of the Chamber board were.

Board Chairman Cody Caldwell said the board had decided it would not provide check register information to one council member but would do so to the city if the council formally asked for it.

Caldwell said any person, including a council member, is free to come by the Chamber office and Doss would display all records and information sought.

Mayor Larry Jones pointed out the Texas Attorney General has ruled Chambers of Commerce are actually not subject to the state’s Open Records Act.

STEWARDS— After several minutes of discussion, councilman Doug Calame said, “I don’t think we’re spending our time wisely.”

“I think it’s being administered properly,” Councilman Allan Miller said. He then made a motion to accept Chamber reports as presented and as “in compliance with the terms of the contract (between the Chamber and city.)”

The motion passed with Miller, Calame, Willie Phillips and Gerry Offield voting in favor, Johnson against and Joyce Dalley abstaining.

“Then contracts don’t matter,” Johnson said.

“The council is the final arbiter (of the contract),” Jones said.

“I’m a steward of the city’s money,” Johnson said.

“We’re all stewards of the city’s dollars,” Jones replied.

In other business, the council:

• Okayed the second reading of an ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from living w ithin 2,000 feet of premises where children gather.

• Formally dissolved the old Rockdale Municipal Development District (MDD) and created the new MDD.

• Okayed three-way stop signs for the corner of Childress and Colorado (Rockdale High School main entrance) and a yield sign at the Coffield-Highland corner.

• Decided to enter into an “open-ended” contract with City Attorney Michelle Lehmkuhl, which can be terminated by either of the two parties.

• Okayed previously discussed thoroughfare designation changes in the city’s master plan.

• Approved repairs to a pump at the Texas Street well. City Manager Kelvin Knauf said the equipment should still be under warranty.

• Approved a $29,000 contract with Dalton Construction for a Peach Street water line.

• Granted short form subdivision requests for Alan Noack and Matt Lehmkuhl.

• Applied for a Community Development Block Grant for 2011.

• Okayed a change in Atmos Energy tariffs reflecting a recent settlement between Atmos and the Atmos Texas Municipalities Coalition.

• Heard Knauf give an update on the city’s new website.

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