Two demonstrations were held Saturday outside Cloud 9 Emporium and Above the Clouds shops opposing the sale of synthetic drugs in Washington County.
The protests, organized by Tammy Eldridge, wife of Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge, and Parents Against the Sale of Synthetic Drugs, had groups of protesters and team leaders stationed in front of Cloud 9 on West Oakland Avenue, as well as outside the Above the Clouds shop in Boones Creek.
“Since we’re doing it from 9 a.m. until midnight, we took it in three-hour shifts and there’s been probably as many as 50 (people) at each location,” Eldridge said.
She said during each shift there was an assigned team leader responsible for bringing at least 10 other committed protesters to protest alongside others who showed up from the community.
Eldridge said the protest brought out people of all ages to help fight for their cause.
“Another neat thing about this is that it is so inter-generational,” she said. “There’s 4 year olds to probably 80 year olds out here.”
Eldridge said she and those involved with PASSD wanted to inform synthetic drug shop owners they are no longer welcome in Washington County.
County and city commissioners and other elected officials also attended Saturday’s protests.
State Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, said he was impressed by the turnout.
“I mean, you listen to the horns honking in support and all the people out here today, it really shows the support and what can happen when the community comes together,” he said.
Hill said he wanted to be at the protest to let people know their state representatives are listening to the community’s concern about synthetic drugs.
“We’ve got different pieces, about four or five pieces, of legislation that’s moving through the legislative session right now that’s going to help ban these substances and close down these shops,” he said. “The idea is to put the bad guys in prison and shut these shops down.”
The proposed bill would be able to shut down any store or shop that sells synthetic drugs for 60 days, as well as involve the local police and the district attorney general, Hill said.
“The police will be able to investigate, the DA will be able to prosecute, which is what we want,” Hill said.
He said he would like to see the synthetic drug bill be enacted by the first of April.
Hill said he’s proud of the community coming together to protest the sale of these drugs.
“The community, once again, has shown here in Washington County that when the folks come together on an issue and speak with one voice, it’s not us, the legislators, it’s the people that get it done,” he said.