ONTARIO, Ore. -- Starting Friday, it is now illegal to sell, buy, and of course, smoke Spice in Idaho. Spice is technically an incense, but some people smoke it to get high. That caused concern among state and local leaders.
As a result of that concern, swift action was taken to outlaw Spice. First in Meridian, a city-wide ban was approved earlier this week. Friday, Governor Butch Otter signed a temporary statewide ban on the chemicals commonly found in Spice.
One spice seller told us that other sellers might turn their attention to Oregon to make money off it there, but now, they'll experience the same roadblocks across the border.
In almost simultaneous action with Idaho, the city of Ontario, Oregon banned Spice last week with an ordinance. Now, the Oregon Board of Pharmacy has temporarily banned the substance statewide, making spice a schedule one controlled substance, effective Friday.
The Boys and Girls Club in Ontario helped in its city's fight against Spice.
"[Spice] came really slowly, and then all of the sudden it was everywhere," Erin Cunningham, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Western Treasure Valley, said.
Cunningham said stores opened recently, including a Spice shop roughly 1200 feet away from the Boys and Girls Club.
"A store popped up and they had a big sign out with balloons and a dancer. They made it seem really exciting. It really undermined our message to the kids that you don't have to do drugs. There are other positive things in your life, like the Boys and Girls Club," Cunningham said.
The Club worked with city police to find out what could be done. Last week, they went to the Ontario City Council, which banned Spice with a unanimous decision on October 4. Police went out the next day and told stores selling spice was now illegal. They gave them time to get rid of the product, then began enforcement.
"After that time period, we've revisited those businesses, they've complied, and as far as we can tell, they're still complying," Ontario Police Interim Chief Mark Alexander said.
Now, the store down the street from the Boys and Girls Club is only identifiable by posters about the state and city bans on Spice. Inside the store, there are just some empty shelves and a few chairs.
"Our goal is really to continue public education on the drug problem overall and continue with the energy that came out of this problem with these spice stores, continue that energy onto our bigger problems as well," Alexander said.
Cunningham said when Idaho began considering ways to ban Spice or prosecute sellers or buyers, more stores cropped up in Ontario, which is just across the state border.
"As soon as Idaho started cracking down on Spice or K-2, you started seeing these stores popping up in Ontario. Then, you know what? As soon as we passed the ordinance to ban it, the very next day they were in Payette," Cunningham said.
Police say with the laws in both Idaho and Oregon changing at the same time, they will be easier to police. For Cunningham, it's added assurance Spice isn't allowed close to the border town and its kids.
"You can't bounce back and forth between the communities because nobody thinks it's okay," Cunningham said.
Ontario Police say Nyssa and Malheur County are both working on getting ordinances in place that will outlaw Spice.
The Oregon Board of Pharmacy says its decision to make selling and possessing Spice illegal is temporary for now, but the board's spokesperson says it's working on permanently classifying Spice as an illegal drug. In Oregon, classifying the substance as an illegal drug doesn't require the governor or legislature's approval.
According to Governor Otter's office, Idaho is the 14th state to ban Spice. That is also only a temporary ban until the end of the legislative session. Lawmakers will consider making it a permanent ban in their next legislative session which begins January 10th.