SOUTHAVEN, MS (WMC-TV) - The city of Southaven is taking measures to ban a controversial herb that can mimic the effects of marijuana.
The herbal incense, which is known by a variety of names, can mimic a marijuana high when it is smoked. Its increasing popularity has led to an ordinance, expected to be passed Tuesday by Southaven's Board of Aldermen, which would ban its use.
According to Southaven Mayor Greg Davis, officials aimed to create an all-encompassing ordinance which makes sure the city covers everything that might be going on involving the herb.
Once approved, the ordinance will go into effect immediately, and anyone found in violation will be charged with a misdemeanor. They could be fined $1,000 dollars, receive jail time, or both.
Southaven Police Chief Tom Long says the ordinance is about the serious health concerns to incense could pose to young people.
"When you can have a 13 or 14-year-old going to buy something, and thinking he can smoke that and get a high from marijuana and end up in the hospital, that's not what this is about," Long said.
Sam Mohammed, who has owned the Sam's Snack Express convenience store in Southaven since 2005, has the incense in stock and has sold it in the past.
But Mohammed said once the law is passed, he will comply as a business owner and a father.
"I will not sell it at all," he said. "We will just clean everything out and respect the law. We are residents of Southaven. We have to go with the law."
Currently, a dozen states, including Kentucky, Kansas and Alabama, along with several cities, are ether banning or debating bans on the incense.
Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill to ban it effective July 1. Mississippi may follow suit in its next legislative session.