Mayor orders tobacco shop to close after selling bath salts to cops

bbashioum@demo-mo.comMarch 14, 2014 

Harrisonville Mayor Kevin Wood is cracking down on drugs being sold in his city.

Wood ordered police to shut down Discount Liquor and Tobacco, 2011 N. Commercial St., Harrisonville, on Feb. 27, due to illegally selling synthetic drugs.

“It’s time for people to know we’re not going to put up with that,” Wood said.

The selling of bath salts and synthetic drugs became illegal within the city limits in early September after Police Chief John Hofer made a plea with the city’s Board of Aldermen to prohibit them.

The ordinance states that the city can pull a business license if a business does not comply.

“This is something we do not really want to be selling in Harrisonville. It is very harmful for our children and adults,” Hofer told the aldermen at their Sept. 3 meeting. “We recently found high school students on this stuff.”

On Feb. 26, police conducted a sting of enforcement checks on businesses who had been known to sell synthetic drugs in the past.

After police observed an employee at the Discount Liquor and Tobacco shop selling the bath salts, Wood made an order for their business license to be revoked and for the shop to be closed.

“They sent someone in and were able to buy synthetic drugs and a pipe,” Wood said.

Discount Liquor and Tobacco owner Ricky Patel made a plea to the city’s BOA to ask for his business license to be reinstated on March 3. Patel admitted to breaking the law.

“I am sincerely sorry for what happened. I hope you will accept my sincere apologies. I promise it will never happen again,” Patel said. “I learned (what happens) if I don’t follow the rules and regulations.”

The BOA backed the mayor’s decision and declined the business owner’s request.

According to Hofer, the illicit products are being marketed as “bath salts,” which consist of synthetic substitutes that mimic the pharmacological effects of amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy and other illegal drugs.

He said bath salt users can experience severe reactions, resulting in unconsciousness, seizures, hospitalization, and in some reported cases, death.

Hofer asked the board to do what other communities do - establish ordinances against the sale and use of the products - to protect the health, safety and welfare of their citizens.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the number of calls related to bath salt exposure received by poison control centers across the country has increased by more than 20 times in 2011 alone, up from 304 in 2010 to 6,138.

Despite being labeled as “not for human consumption,” bath salts are being used as recreational drugs and have been marketed as legal and safer alternatives to illegal methods of consuming drugs and are marketed in such a manner as to imply that they are a legal form of high and yet are considered dangerous by the Food and Drug Administration, Drug Enforcement Administration and state health agencies.

Aldermen unanimously approved the proposed ordinance 7-0.

“The BOA has given us the tools to defend drugs in Harrisonville,” Hofer said. “We’re going to use them to the fullest. We want to make Harrisonville a safe and drug-free community.”

After the ordinance was approved, Wood said Harrisonville police officers hand-delivered copies of the ordinance to businesses who were known to be selling bath salts.

“We sent officers to hand-deliver the notice to them that they could not sell those in Harrisonville,” Wood said. “I don’t think there were any questions in anybody’s mind that you can’t do it.”

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