Tahlequah businesses busted for selling synthetic marijuana


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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 3/05/2013 10:06 am Published: 3/04/2013 8:52 pm


Three Green Country stores have been busted, accused of selling synthetic marijuana, incense and herbs laced with chemicals to mimic the effects of pot.

One of the stores was a Shell Station in Wagoner. Another was a head shop called Blasters located near the Northeastern State University campus in Tahlequah. The third store was a head shop called the Outer Zone, also in Tahlequah, that was also busted back in November for selling synthetic marijuana.

While the Outer Zone was closed down Monday, with a sign on the door saying it was closed until further notice, many in Tahlequah were questioning how the business was able to continue operating after the first bust.

Both busts were part of an ongoing investigation across the area, but the owners of the Outer Zone have yet to be convicted of any crimes. Therefore, there was no legal reason the store couldn't continue operating, although sale of the synthetic marijuana for the purpose of being smoked is not legal.

Blasters, meanwhile, remained open for business on Monday. FOX23 News tried to ask the clerk about the bust and sale of fake pot, but he declined to answer any questions.

However, a woman who asked not to be identified, gave FOX23 News an audio recording of her teenage son going inside Blasters weeks before the bust and asking for "pope," a common street name for synthetic pot.

While the clerk's voice is difficult to hear in the recording, one can hear him tell the teen which incense could be smoked, even though none of them could be smoked legally.

"All of the, like, actually smokable herb organics, all that stuff, is all right there," the clerk told him. And those are different herbs. It's all from an herbal blend."

Outside the Outer Zone Monday afternoon, Sabra Dudley and her friend Jessika Hart told FOX23 News they weren't surprised that store had been busted again.

"People go in there all the time, in and out," Dudley said. "There's more traffic here than there is at Walmart."

While Dudley said she never buys "spice," another common street name for synthetic marijuana, she said she had inadvertently learned the consequences of trying the drug.

"Not knowing," she said. "We thought it was a cigar, and it was something really different."

"It made me freak out."

Hart said she had the same reaction to it. Dudley said she even thought about going to the hospital while under its influence.

Because of the dangerous adverse medical reaction to the drug increasingly reported at hospitals across the state, lawmakers have tried to ban the substance in Oklahoma.

They have successfully outlawed 132 of the chemical compounds found in the products. But manufacturers based out of state continue to find ways to alter the chemistry of their products just enough to skirt the law and continue selling.

This year, the state legislature is trying to close loopholes by including in the law language that would make any variation of those 132 chemical compounds also illegal.

But Cindy Farmer, who oversees Cherokee County's Juvenile Drug Court, says state lawmakers just aren't keeping up with the manufacturers.

"Legislation isn't written effectively to deal with this," Farmer said. "We are more or less playing a shell game with the manufacturers of these products."

Through her role with the drug court, Farmer has seen firsthand the damage synthetic marijuana is doing to teens and adults. She said from the medical emergencies it's causing, reports of domestic abuse and child abuse have risen steadily, on pace with the growth of synthetic marijuana use.

For the past three years Farmer has been on a mission to tackle the problem at a local level with help from the city council, rather than waiting on state government to figure out a solution.

"I've gone to [the city council] before for an ordinance to ban the sale of the product within the city limits," she said. "Our city attorney contends that we cannot do that because of the [attorney general's] opinion on pseudoephedrine."

But Monday night she planned to return to the council with a different plan.

"Tonight I'm going to ask them to consider deeming these businesses that are selling the product a nuisance."

And state law, she said, supports her idea.

"Once a business has been convicted under the controlled Substance Act of selling illegal drugs, then it becomes known as a public nuisance. I mean, our state statutes say that."

Unfortunately, she said, businesses like Blasters and Outer Zone will continue to operate and selling the products until they are convicted or shut down because of how much money there is to be made.

Investigators on the first bust at Outer Zone told FOX23 News that Outer Zone gets at least box of synthetic marijuana in every week, which it purchases for about $14,000. Within a matter of days, the store can sell out of the entire shipment for a profit of $21,000.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Unwashed Mass - 3/5/2013 10:31 AM
0 Votes
I think the (long-winded) message here is that this problem will disappear once marijuana laws are reformed.

Unwashed Mass - 3/5/2013 10:28 AM
1 Vote
Could confusing this with marijuana be a tactic to make people afraid of legalized medical marijuana?

Mayor Maynot - 3/5/2013 3:39 AM
0 Votes
Y back in the day hemp was used for rope. DuPont was experimenting with polymers (then waste from petroleum distillation. DuPont extruded the nylon fibers andHe went all the way into court (that shows some good sense) he no doubt got scared knowing that they would send him away from that room to clean up his little act then he could walk out and become a citizen again. He's gonna pay a little more. How much probably depends on how he holds himself once he sees a judge. Good luck man try to be good to yoursel made rope. Shippers being the regular square knots that they were known to be felt if it isn't broke don't fix it. DuPont viewed hemp as an obstacle. So he hired lobbyists to convince congress that hemp was an evil drug that causes the user to go crazy. If you are real upset, burn one. Younwill probably forget about your immediate worries and stay focused on a good sweet snack.

malcolmkyle - 3/5/2013 2:16 AM
1 Vote
Legally regulated manufacture, distribution and consumption of marijuana is coming to a state near you in 2013: CALIFORNIA “These laws just don't make sense anymore. It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users… these are incredibly upstanding citizens: Leaders in our community, and exceptional people.” —Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (preparing the way for Governor Jerry Brown to initiate proceedings to legalize and regulate marijuana through the state legislature) HAWAII On January 18th, 2012, House Speaker Joseph Souki and majority leader Scott Saiki introduced legislation that would allow people 21 or older to buy possess and consume small amounts of marijuana for personal use. The bill also authorizes marijuana retail stores and cultivation, manufacturing, and testing facilities. Recent polls show that Hawaii residents are increasingly in favor of ending cannabis prohibition, the most recent found that 57% of Hawaii voters believe marijuana should be regulated, taxed, and legal for adults. MAINE Maine's legislature is moving on a legalization-and-regulation bill that could bring the state $8 million a year in new revenue. ''The people are far ahead of the politicians on this. Just in the past few weeks we've seen the culture shift dramatically.'' —Rep. Diane Russell of Portland, District 120 (Occupation: Public Relations Consultant) NEW YORK "Today, marijuana possession is the number one arrest in New York City." citing the harmful outcomes of these arrests – racial disparities, stigma, fiscal waste, criminalization – and calling on the legislature to act:  “It’s not fair, it’s not right. It must end, and it must end now.” —New York Governor Andrew Cuomo NEVADA "Thinking we're not going to have it is unrealistic. It's just a question of how and when" —Assemblyman Richard (Tick) Segerblom of Las Vegas, elected to the Nevada State Senate in 2012
 
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