NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 25, 2014

Judge dismisses smoke shop complaint

SEABROOK — A Superior Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit launched by a local business owner who attempted to block a town ordinance intended to stop the distribution of fake marijuana products in Seabrook.

On Jan. 21, Rockingham County Superior Court Presiding Justice N. William Delker handed down his ruling, dismissing the complaint lodged against the town by William Walsh, owner of the Smoking Monkey and co-owner of Smokers City. The suit asked the court declare Seabrook’s synthetic cannabinoid ordinance “null, void and unenforceable” on state owned roads as it pertained to his businesses, and to prevent police from enforcing the ordinance against his customers.

In his ruling, Delker wrote that Walsh’s complaint included issues that “. . . are so vague, prospective and indefinite, that as to present the court with no judicial standards on which a decision could be based.”

Walsh’s legal complaint was filed with the court on Nov. 7, a month after selectmen approved a town ordinance making unlawful on Seabrook roads, sidewalks or town property, the transport, use or possession of synthetic cannabinoids, known as fake weed on the street, or their derivatives, such as salts or isomers.

The unique town ordinance was unanimously approved by the Board of Selectmen after dozens of residents pleaded with them to act, claiming synthetic cannabinoids, although legally sold as incense, are addictive when smoked and have ruined lives.

Most popular among 12- to 17-year-olds, synthetic cannabinoid is supposedly pleasant-smelling herbal incense, but when smoked, it produces an addictive high many believe is more dangerous than marijuana due to the chemicals that are inhaled. Originally sold under names such as K-2 or Spice, which were since banned, other brands have taken their place. And according to many who testified at the selectmen’s meeting, both the Smoking Monkey and Smokers City, sell these incense products.

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