Proposal in Dexter would simplify arrests for synthetic drugs

Sunday, August 11, 2013
Synthetic marijuana confiscated by the Dexter Police Department.

By Corey Noles ~ The Daily Statesman

DEXTER, Mo. -- Synthetic drugs are already illegal in all of Missouri. But the city of Dexter has a proposed an ordinance to simplify arrests for possession of those drugs.

The ordinance was presented to the Dexter Board of Aldermen for their consideration last week at the request of Dexter Police Chief Sammy Stone.

Under state law, if an person is picked up by a police officer for a violation involving synthetic drugs, he or she has to be transported to the county jail, where he or she then can be prosecuted.

The proposed ordinance would allow the city to prosecute individuals for possession of an imitation controlled substance within Dexter's municipal court.

"We've talked about doing this for a couple of years," Stone said. "For whatever reason, we just never moved forward with it."

While they feel the ordinance is necessary, Stone said it's not something the police department had a lot of problems with in the past.

"This just makes it easier," he said.

Contrary to popular belief, these drugs can be extremely dangerous, he said. Stone cited incidents around the region and country where individuals had died, killed others or in one case in Florida, one person was accused of cannibalizing another human being.

The 2012 killing of Patrick Goforth in Catron, Mo., allegedly by his father, Charles Goforth, has been attributed to synthetic drugs.

Goforth reportedly had severe hallucinations and intense fear that allegedly led to his actions. He is scheduled to stand trial in September.

"The No. 1 goal of everything in this business is to keep the residents of Dexter safe," he said, noting that means needing new tools to prosecute criminals.

Such an ordinance also would generate revenue for Dexter. Stone said it would, however, be a minimal amount, due to the small number of such arrests.

"People often assume we make a lot of money on fines, and that's simply not the case," Stone said. "They don't come anywhere near being able to cover our department's budget."

If approved, the ordinance would mean a conviction would be punishable by a fine up to $500 and up to 90 days in jail.

The ordinance written so that as additional drug definitions are added in the state law, they automatically apply to the local law.

The board could revisit the decision at its next regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 3.

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