The city of Key West followed scores of other cities across the nation this week in banning the sale and possession of so-called bath salts, actually synthetic cocaine, and imitation marijuana.
The first reading of the ordinance by city commissioners bans the sale or possession of any substance packaged or labeled as synthetic marijuana or bath salts.
Florida legislators made the products illegal in March, and the law went into effect statewide on March 23, making possession a first-degree misdemeanor.
"Like so many cities, Key West is passing a local ordinance as a way of stepping up and letting everyone know these products have been banned and that we will not tolerate these dangerous products that are marketed to children in our community," said city of Key West spokeswoman Alyson Crean.
Health officials say products marketed as "bath salts" often are snorted, smoked or injected, producing a hallucinogenic high, and in some cases paranoia, violent outbursts, seizures or kidney failure. Manufacturers often change the chemical formulas to stay ahead of new laws prohibiting their use.
Synthetic marijuana is often labeled as Spice or K2. Police say it, too, can be dangerous when smoked, but bath salts have been getting more media attention. That's due to cases such as the one of a Panama City woman who, after ingesting the drug, reportedly tried to cut her mother's head off with a machete, thinking she was a monster.
Bath salts first made headlines in the Florida Keys in February 2011 when Key West police Chief Donie Lee and Monroe County Sheriff Bob Peryam ordered their officers to begin confiscating the product in response to an emergency order issued by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
The City Commission will approve a final draft of the ordinance on Aug. 7, Crean said.