"Last night, between 4 and 5 P.M., we had an 18-year-old boy overdose on synthetic marijuana, so it's getting to be more of a common occurrence in this area," explains Laurel County Sheriff John Root.
That growing problem led Sheriff Root to back an ordinance banning the sale or possession of synthetic marijuana. Thursday night, the Laurel County Fiscal Court unanimously gave it final approval.
"The only law we were acting on was if someone had actually smoked the synthetic marijuana and was high on it, then we could arrest. But, with this ordinance, now, a store that is selling, we can charge them with trafficking or somebody that possesses it, with a possession charge," says Sheriff Root.
Community member Darrell Peters showed up to the meeting to show his support for the ban.
"Synthetic marijuana is very, very dangerous. I've worked in 6 emergency rooms. I've delt with people who have overdosed and it's not a pretty sight," comments Peters.
This fight over synthetic marijuana and other simulated controlled substances is going on statewide. Earlier this month in Franklin County, authorities raided five businesses and arrested five people for the sale, transfer or possession of a simulated controlled substance.
"We found, in 1992, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a simulated substance prohibition. That law prohibits the creation, sale or possession of any substance designed to look like, act like or be marketed like a currently controlled substance," explains Franklin County Attorney Rick Sparks.
Sheriff Root says he's aware of that law but thought his county needed something more specific.
"I have spoke with Franklin County and i think there's some problems with that statute. I think they kind of feel like they're over-stepping their boundaries and they've actually inquired about this ordinance that we've passed," says Sheriff Root.
Sheriff Root says he will begin enforcing the ban immediately. Corbin and Cadiz are also considering proposals to ban synthetic marijuana.