Parents, police warn synthetic marijuana easy to find at stores - KCTV5

Parents, police warn synthetic marijuana easy to find at stores

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Parents and police warn that synthetic marijuana readily can be bought at your local convenience store.

Some of it is illegal. But others aren't yet because manufacturers work hard to stay ahead of state legislative bodies.

KCTV5 went undercover to investigate the sales of synthetic marijuana, which are often called "Spice" or "Incense."

Lee's Summit mom Leigh Ann Hall has put two of her kids through drug rehabilitation. That has made her more savvy and more suspicious than most parents.

"When I got wind that they were selling different herbal things that kids are smoking and using as drugs and mind-altering chemicals, I was concerned," Hall said.

Hall is referring to the brand new Phillips 66 gas station and convenience store at Third Street and Longview Road. The store is just a mile from two elementary schools.

To figure out the origin of the synthetic marijuana, Hall had to do some digging. She said she "read some texts and looked through drawers and things and was able to find out that this stuff is being sold up here."

The Missouri General Assembly first declared synthetic marijuana a controlled substance in 2010. Last year, lawmakers updated the law to add even more items onto its long list of banned chemicals.

But there are still plenty of legal options for kids to buy, said Lee's Summit Police Department Sgt. Chris Depue.

"The folks producing the drug then slightly alter the chemical formula to again skirt the law," Depue said.

That is exactly what the Phillips 66 clerk told KCTV5 reporter Betsy Webster, who went undercover.

"They just keep changing one thing about it each time," the clerk said.

Webster visited the store that Hall was concerned about. She asked the clerk about buying "K2", which is one of the more popular brand names for synthetic marijuana.

"I have five grams of ... ‘Pandora' and ‘Boogie Man.' I got all kinds of new stuff in," the clerk replied.

The "Blueberry Mamba" Webster bought looked similar to marijuana, but it carried a label that said "DEA compliant".

Unsure about what she had purchased, Webster provided the substance to Lee's Summit police for testing.

In the meantime, the department visited the store to buy three other spice varieties. When one of those samples came back positive for an illegal ingredient, police conducted a raid and temporarily closed down the store.

The investigation into this gas station and another one owned by the same person is still ongoing. No charges have been filed.

KCTV attempted to reach the owner of the gas stations, but did not get a reply.

Police want to target the supply of the marijuana. In addition, Depue said police are emphasizing to businesses that selling even the banned stuff just isn't worth the risk to their bottom line.

"Not only do you face a criminal prosecution," Depue said, "since most of these places also sell alcohol, you run the risk of losing your liquor license because it's a controlled substance. You run the risk of administratively losing your business license."

Why are police so motivated to stop these sales?

Depue says it has to do with the term "synthetic marijuana" misleading the public.

"It gives a sense of that it's safer or not as dangerous as harder drugs," Depue said. "I would put it more akin to like smoking PCP, which is a chemical-type based drug that produces a chemical-based high."

Hall's son, Jake, told KCTV5 about his use of synthetic marijuana.

"It's definitely more of an intense high and you can start to hallucinate and trip out of reality," he said. "You don't really know what's real and what's not."

Jake's experience validates concerns about this substance, including those raised by Depue.

Because police can only do so much, Hall wants to warn other parents. She said parents must step up and get involved.

"Go into your local convenience stores and drug stores and if you see it on the shelves, make a stink and try to get it off the shelves," Hall said.

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