Popular synthetic marijuana scares users back to real thing

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Massive police raids last month hit sales of synthetic marijuana but some stores will continue to sell the dangerous product, Kansas City police said Wednesday.

“The store owners are obviously not going to stop selling … because it’s too lucrative for them,” Sgt. Brad Dumit told the city council public safety committee.

Kansas City police served six search warrants and confiscated $100,000 in the substances last month, he said. That was part of a joint task force that served 42 warrants throughout the area on Oct. 22.

A police field test that can determine on site whether the compounds are illegal was developed in the last few weeks, he said. “We will continue to fight.”

Dumit said he gets calls every day from concerned parents, relatives and friends of users of the substances with names like King Kong, Purple Passion and Scooby.

He also gets calls from users who say the products messed them up so much they will never do them again, he said. “They say, ‘I’m just going to do regular drugs’ – that’s how scary it is.”

Chemical compounds, doses and effects vary from batch to batch, Dumit said. “It’s a lot of basement chemists putting these things together.”

Yet convenience stores, gas stations and other places sell them labeled as herbal incense, often right next to smoking paraphernalia, he said.

They are packaged in bright colors designed to appeal to children and teens, he said.

They used to have brand names like K2 and Spice but after state laws outlawed those products, the chemists altered the compounds and continued sales, Dumit said. So last year, the Missouri legislature made a whole list of compounds illegal.

Kansas City police are making progress, he said. Whereas the products were mostly sold in the open a year ago, now many stores hide them under counters.

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