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Councilman hopes to stop sale of manufactured drugs in Terrebonne

Houma, La. - More than a year after Louisiana lawmakers banned bath salts and synthetic marijuana, Terrebonne Parish deputies were able to buy the products at local stores.

"In July, a narcotics unit did an enforcement action on two locations that were specifically selling these items," says Terrebonne Parish Deputy Daryl Stewart. "During that time, there were about 40 people attempting to gain entry as customers... not realizing that we had it shut down. When we began identifying those people, over 20 of those people are under the age of 16."

Bath salts and synthetic marijuana are illegal in the state, but the manufacturers of both get around the laws by constantly changing the ingredients.

Sheriff's investigators routinely go into stores, buy the latest products and send them off to the state lab to be banned.

Deputies say business owners found selling the illegal products are arrested but allowed to reopen their stores once they get out of jail.

Now Terrebonne Parish Councilman and retired Houma Police Captain Greg Hood wants to make it easier for deputies to enforce the laws. He's proposing a parish ordinance that targets those businesses.

"Where I'm going at right now is going to be the occupational licenses," says Hood. "If they sell it, I want them shut down."

Hood says his ordinance still needs work.  Right now, only the state has the power to revoke business licenses, but Hood hopes legislators will give that authority to the parishes. He says the wording of his ordinance has to be precise to cover any new products that hit the shelves.

"A 15-year-old can't walk into a convenience store and buy alcohol," says Hood. "He can't walk in there at 15 and buy a pack of cigarettes, it's illegal. But he can walk into this store and buy this synthetic stuff. So that's gotta be stopped."

Stewart thinks the ordinance will help his department. He hopes other parishes will follow Terrebonne's lead.

"As a community, you stand up and say you're not going to tolerate it anymore," he says. "There's certain things that the federal government is equipped to do, there's certain things that the state government is equipped to do but there are some things that a smaller community is able to grab hold of and choke out and I think this is one of them."

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