During Monday's meeting, the Clay County Commissioners suspended the rules and adopted an ordinance on its first reading, banning the sale of synthetic marijuana within the county.
With lawmakers considering legislation to possibly ban such substances, including "K2" and "Spice," county officials felt it was best to stay one step ahead of the curve.
"Drugs have become a plague upon our community, and we need to keep doing what we can to minimize the effect it has on our residents," Commissioners' President Charlie Brown said. "Our local law enforcement is out there all the time fighting this fight, and their efforts are ongoing."
Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said the products are legal at this time, but their health effects are not currently known.
"These products have chemical compounds similar to marijuana, and it even states on the packages that it is 'not for human consumption,'" he said. "There are only two shops in the county that are currently selling synthetic marijuana, but they have both agreed to remove it from their shelves once this ordinance is passed."
A major reason for instituting the ban was how accessible it is to the county's youth.
"Young people are aware of it and its effects," Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger told the commissioners. "I recently spoke to a group of high school kids and they knew more about it than I did."
Heaton added synthetic marijuana products like "K2" and "Spice" have not been tested by the Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture or other governmental agency regulating human consumption, meaning the welfare of those ingesting the substances are not clear.
With other counties in the state already adopting similar prohibitive ordinances, local officials also wanted to prevent the potential of trafficking the product into areas where the ban is in effect.
"Not only will this hopefully protect our youth in the county, but also prevent those from counties with a ban already in place from coming here," Reberger said. "The main goal is to maintain the safety of the residents and keep drugs off our streets."
According to the ordinance, those in violation will be subject to the penalty imposed for a Class B infraction (up to a $1,000 fine) as set forth in Indiana Code 34-28-5-4, and the ordinance will be enforced by the provisions of Indiana Code 34-8-5.
In addition, Heaton said officials are looking into the possibility of creating a separate ordinance prohibiting Salvia in the county.
Meanwhile, the commissioners elected to extend the term of another ban currently in place.
Brown said that while there has been some accumulation of rainfall, it has not been enough to end the countywide ban on burning.
Because of this, the commissioners unanimously voted to extend the burn ban through at least Nov. 16, at which time the ordinance could be extended further or ended.
In other business during Monday's meeting, the Clay County Commissioners:
* Approved work order changes in the contract for the repaving of Harmony Road as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus). The changes include the purchase of temporary marking tape for the road, and the use of manpower and equipment to patch a hole on the road just north of Center Point. According to Tim Daggy, representing Butler, Fairman & Seufert Civil Engineers, Indianapolis, the additional work fits within the financial restraints of the current contract,
* Approved the solicitation of bids for the Clay County Highway Department, which will be opened during the commissioners December meeting, and
* Released the last portion of Economic Recovery Zone Bonds in the amount of $604,500. With no local companies wanting to utilize the funds -- most of which was released during the October meeting -- other counties with a need will be able to use the funds being released by Clay County.
The next meeting of the Clay County Commissioners is scheduled for 9 a.m., Monday, Dec. 6, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse.