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City to consider synthetic drug law

Since Stacy Huberty's son was hospitalized after using synthetic marijuana, she's been on a mission to get lawmakers to deem the substance illegal. Tuesday, she took the issue to the Hastings City Council, with a request to pass a law that night.

Huberty addressed the council with the support of police chief Paul Schnell, Rep. Denny McNamara and Sen. Katie Sieben, citing side effects not only of the synthetic stuff that nearly killed her son, but also of the real thing.

While long-term effects have been identified for marijuana, she said, citing reports from Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, she couldn't say what effect the synthetic drug could have.

"There have never been any studies done," she said.

The issue is growing not only in Minnesota, but across the country. Nearly a dozen states have already banned the substance, also known as "K2" or "Spice." Sieben has promised to introduce a bill to the state in the next legislative session, which begins in January.

"I really do think this is a legislative issue," said mayor Paul Hicks.

He suggested that allowing the state to handle the legislation would have a larger effect.

"That's going to go a long way, not only in Hastings but in the whole state," he said.

Huberty argued that a state law wouldn't get started until January, and until then, the drug could continue to legally endanger lives locally.

"I also think that we could set precedence," she told the council.

Duluth became the first Minnesota city to ban synthetic marijuana on Aug. 30. Huberty suggested that Hastings could help pioneer the movement by doing the same.

Council member Danna Elling Schultz, also the chair of the public safety committee, motioned to bring the issue to her committee. After considering the statistics Huberty mentioned in her presentation to the council, the committee could come back to the council with a recommendation.

If the council decides to move forward, it would have to be put through a multi-week process before it could be signed into law.