Just hours after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan trumpeted a new Chicago ordinance carrying a fine for selling synthetic marijuana, Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow took a poke at the logic behind the city law.
"You would never think of passing an ordinance fining someone $500 for selling a child heroin," Glasgow told Shorewood's village trustees during their Tuesday night meeting.
And that's why, Glasgow said, he researched and drafted a state law that will make the sale or possession of synthetic marijuana a felony in 2012.
"We're going to go after (synthetic marijuana) aggressively on Jan. 1," Glasgow said.
Sold as an incense product often labeled "not for human consumption," synthetic marijuana is clearly marketed for human consumption and can be purchased by anyone of any age.
"A 15-year-old can walk into a tobacco store and buy incense," Glasgow said, noting 350 such establishments in Will County have already been put on notice that if they continue to sell the stuff after the new year, they could be facing heavy penalties.
A conviction for selling synthetic marijuana carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, a possible $150,000 fine and the seizure of illegal stock as well as any property used to facilitate the sale. Those penalties can range as high as 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines for someone who sells 200 grams of synthetic marijuana or more.
The stiff sentences are justified by the danger posed by the drug, Glasgow said.
"It could be a situation like LSD, where you're getting hallucinations 10 years from now," he said.
Glasgow, Shorewood Police Chief Aaron Klima, and other Will County police chiefs will be back in Shorewood today for a press conference providing further information on the new law, which was sponsored by House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego.
The new legislation "gives law enforcement, and Chief Klima, the tools that law enforcement needs to protect Shorewood from this menace," Glasgow said.
"This solution is coming and it's the best solution possible," he said of the new law. "Much better than a village ordinance."