FULTON COUNTY — The Fulton County Commissioners is considering an ordinance that would prohibit the sale, manufacture and distribution of certain synthetic drugs.
Commissioners discussed the ordinance and approved a first read at their March 6 meeting.
Proposed by Commissioner Bob Ellis, the ordinance bans synthetic cannabinoids, opioids and cathinone within unincorporated Fulton County and county parks. The ordinance was modeled after a similar measure under consideration in Milton.
“Synthetic cannabis, cannabis-related items and opioid-related items are sold primarily in convenience stores,” Ellis said. “The state has tried to shut a lot of these things down, and they get around state laws that have been established by doing a reformulation of the actual synthetic.”
As a local ordinance, this new rule would not carry the full weight of a state law, Ellis said, but could encourage other local governments to crack down on these drugs, which have led to deaths.
Commissioner Natalie Hall said she fully supported the ordinance. Commissioner Liz Hausmann said she supported the measure in theory, but had questions about the wording. Commissioner Marvin Arrington said he would like to hear from law enforcement and health experts before voting.
In other action at the meeting, a motion by Ellis to appoint Alpharetta attorney Ken Zdrok to the Board of Assessors failed for the second time. The appointment would be to replace real estate developer Salma Ahmed upon the completion of her four-year term in July.
“He has a pretty deep experience with appraisal, valuation, appeals, compliance audits, really running the full gambit,” Ellis said. “I think he would bring a tremendous amount of depth to the Board of Assessors, which as we all know has had its challenges over the past couple of years.”
Ellis read endorsements of Zdrok from Roswell Mayor Lori Henry, Alpharetta Mayor Jim Gilvin and Mountain Park Mayor Jim Still.
Chairman Robb Pitts said the motion was premature and that Ahmed was the most experienced person on the Board of Assessors. Ellis said he brought the motion forward early because appointees must complete a state certification class, which is offered infrequently, before they can serve.
The vote was split along partisan lines, with Ellis, Hausmann and Commissioner Lee Morris supporting Zdrok’s appointment. The appointment will come before the board again.
Also March 6, the commission amended its funding for community service programs to add $75,000 for the Lionheart School in Alpharetta, which serves children with autism, and $75,000 for the Summit Counseling Center’s North Fulton Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Initiative.
At its Feb. 20 meeting the commission approved spending $6 million on 82 nonprofit community service programs. The Lionheart School and Summit Counseling initially did not make the cut. Hausmann pointed out at that time that none of the funded programs were targeted toward autism or to suicide prevention.
The Department of Community Development acknowledged it needed to change its evaluation process to give more consideration to programs that filled service gaps. Finding extra money in its operation budget, the department recommended allocating $75,000 each to Lionheart and Summit.
Patrick Fox contributed to this report.