New drug ordinance results in first conviction

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By Stan Welch

Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper says that the County’s ground breaking ordinance against the designer drugs known as “bath salts” is having just the effect that was hoped for. The first conviction under the ordinance occurred this week, when Collette DelConte of Marietta SC, plead guilty before Judge Ronnie Whitman and paid a $500 fine for distributing the substances. That is the maximum penalty that the county ordinance can impose.

She was arrested at a local retail store as she was delivering approximately 100 packets of the bath salts. Two employees of the store were also charged, but have requested jury trials, according to Sheriff Skipper. He also said that if subsequent testing of the drugs shows the presence of any substances banned by the DEA prohibition adopted by the state DHEC agency, further charges could be forthcoming.

Skipper says those are the only cases his department has made, but not because they aren’t enforcing the law. “When the ordinance was first passed, I sent my deputies to the various locations that we were aware of selling these substances. We told them about the new ordinance, and the overwhelming majority of the locations voluntarily removed the products from their shelves.”

Skipper says, they occasionally get a complaint and investigate but have not discovered any more of the drugs yet. “We are naturally well past the warning phase now. Anyone found in violation will be arrested and charged.”

The ordinance also bans possession, sale and distribution of artificial marijuana, a substance implicated in the death of an Anderson University athlete several weeks ago.

At its October 18 Council meeting, the Anderson County Council gave second reading approval to an ordinance that would ban the substances, which are commonly sold in convenience stores and other retail locations. The Council amended the language of the ordinance to include the entire cathinone family of drugs, rather than specific members of the family, giving the ordinance a much broader scope.

But they went further, passing an emergency ban on the drugs to make them illegal during the period before third reading was subsequently given to the proposed ordinance.

State Representative Anne Thayer was at that meeting to express her support for Council’s actions. She sponsored legislation to ban the drugs in South Carolina and is expected to work to amend Senate Bill 78 so that it adopts the Anderson County language and bans the entire cathinone family of drugs.