Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Uniform Ordinances Address Underage Alcohol, Tobacco, and Synthetic Drugs

Faced with the problem of inconsistent regulation and enforcement of many “vice” issues impacting underage access to restricted substances, four model ordinances have been developed for the Mayors Caucus of the McHenry County Council of Governments (MCCOG). The ordinances involve keg tagging, social hosting, alcohol and tobacco signs, and synthetic drugs.

The social hosting ordinance prohibits adults from knowingly permitting a gathering where underage persons are consuming alcohol or drugs. The alcohol and tobacco sign ordinance aims to limit the amount of alcohol and tobacco signs in a retail establishment to 20% of the window and door space. This ordinance is aimed at limiting advertisements that make drinking and smoking attractive to teens. The synthetic drug ordinance prohibits the possession, consumption and sale of synthetic drugs.

You can contact Jennifer directly to obtain copies of the model ordinances.

Teen drinking and drug use has been identified by MCCOG as an increasing problem throughout McHenry County. Synthetic drug use is also a growing concern because synthetic drugs can be found in retail establishments disguised in packaging labeled as “not for human consumption.” Synthetic drugs are particularly popular among teens because drug tests often do not detect the presence of these substances in a person’s urine or blood.

The idea behind the model ordinances was to create uniform laws and enforcement policies throughout the county to aid in the fight against underage drinking and drug use. The theory is that the battle against underage drinking and drug use is more effective if municipalities throughout the County adopt similar rules and regulations that prohibit these practices. For instance, it may do little good for one municipality to prohibit the sale of synthetic marijuana if a neighboring municipality allows it. As another example, if one municipality tags kegs and the next municipality does not then a buyer would just likely go to the next municipality to purchase his or her keg. As such, the Mayors Caucus voted to recommend adoption of uniform model ordinances to be adopted throughout McHenry County.

While most cities and villages already have ordinances addressing many of the issues concerning underage access to restricted substances, there is a substantial variance in the actual provisions, including the penalties for enforcement. For example, the penalty for one municipality in the County for underage drinking is as low as $50 to the other extreme of it being a jailable offense with a $500 minimum fine.


Jennifer J. Gibson

Author: Jennifer J. Gibson