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Metropolitan Digest / LOS ANGELES COUNTY NEWS IN BRIEF

LOS ANGELES : Pepper Spray to Go on Sale to Public by Next March

September 16, 1993

By next March, Californians will be able to buy pepper spray for self-defense, according to plans announced Wednesday by Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren.

"It's a reasonably safe and effective alternative to Mace or other weapons that citizens may choose to protect themselves," Lungren said in Los Angeles.

People will have to be certified before they can legally buy the spray, Lundgren said. A bill outlining the procedures passed the Legislature and awaits Gov. Pete Wilson's signature. It allows three options: passing a multiple-choice test at the store, watching a 30-minute safety video at the store or taking a training course from police.

More than 2,000 U.S. police departments use the aerosol spray, a cayenne pepper extract in an oil base that sticks to the eyes, nose and mouth, and sometimes enters into the lungs, overpowering the recipient with a burning sensation and making breathing difficult.

The American Civil Liberties Union has raised questions about its use.

A 35-year-old Bellflower man, Candelario Lopez Herrera, died a week ago after being pepper-sprayed at the Lakewood sheriff's station. But Scott Carrier, a spokesman for the coroner's office, said preliminary indications are that Herrera had overdosed on methamphetamine before his altercation with deputies.

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