FARMINGTON -- Davis County has joined a patchwork of Utah governmental agencies that have banned the herbal concoction called spice.
Effective Tuesday, the production, distribution and possession of spice is a class B misdemeanor in Davis County.
The Davis County Board of Health voted unanimously at a special early-morning meeting called to regulate the product, which has been sold in Utah as incense but used by some as a recreational drug.
Davis County Health Department Director Lewis Garrett said they would give businesses time, perhaps a week, to get the product off the shelf, once the word has been spread of the board's decision.
Spice, also sold as K2, Black Mamba and by various other names, is a combination of herbs and a synthetic variation of a component in marijuana that gives some people a marijuana-like high when smoked.
A chemical expert told the board at a meeting earlier this month that the synthetic cannabinoids, with more than 150 variants, are difficult to identify and legally challenging to control.
The changing nature of the artificial cannabinoids is a problem officials are struggling with at many governmental levels as the product is considered for statewide regulation.
"It is good to get ahead of the curve," said Bret Millburn, Davis County commissioner.
State health officials and others admit there is little research to prove the long-term dangers of spice use. Anecdotal evidence of health problems resulting from its use has come to the board's attention from hospitals and local law enforcement.
A statewide legislative advisory committee, meeting since July, also has agreed to recommend that Utah lawmakers take control of the incense and perhaps make possession of it in Utah a class B misdemeanor similar to marijuana possession.
Three statewide bills regulating spice are in the works for the 2011 session of the Utah Legislature.
Garrett calls the local regulation a stop-gap measure until state lawmakers decide what to do with the issue, and some board members preferred action be taken countywide versus a city-by-city reaction to spice growth.
"It had to happen at this level to be effective," said Farmington Mayor Don Wood, a member of the board.
No opposition, in any public form, was expressed to the board during the process of creating the health regulation.