110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Cities report 100-percent compliance with fake-pot ban
By Jen Horton
posted Feb 1, 2013 - 5:58:33am
The sale of fake pot in Florida was outlawed in December. One month later, the county’s cop shops are reporting the synthetic drugs are nearly gone from local store shelves.
In a coordinated effort, the law-enforcement agencies began an educational campaign for store owners. Individuals who sell the drugs, often labeled as “potpourri,” can be fined up to $5,000 fine and could face up to five years in prison.
Representatives of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, Orange City Police Department and DeLand Police Department visited convenience stores and smoke shops in their jurisdictions and told them the sale of
Orange City Police Cmdr. Jason Sampsell said Orange City hit the streets a week after Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi enacted the emergency rule banning 22 chemicals found in synthetic marijuana.
Officers were armed with informational packages.
“We went on a Thursday, and then went back Monday,” Sampsell said. When the officers went back, they seized any drugs still available. “We collected 15-20 packages of the synthetic drugs.”
Orange City then ran an undercover operation, sending operatives into the stores to try to buy fake pot, which is sometimes called K2 or Spice.
“We received a tip that a store was not in compliance,” Sampsell said. “We performed an undercover operation for that store, and for other stores in the area. We were unable to purchase the product. In fact, one store owner told us it was illegal.”
He added, “We have 100-percent compliance in Orange City.”
DeLand had similar good news. On Jan. 16-17, officers went to about 30 businesses, DeLand police Sgt. Chris Estes said.
“We explained that the synthetic drugs were no longer legal,” Estes said. “We also provided written notice, which the owner or manager had to sign for.”
Estes said during DeLand’s campaign, none of the stores or smoke shops had the substances in plain view.
DeLand also intends to check in to make sure the stuff stays off the shelves.
“We are going to do periodic inspections,” Estes said. “We’ve taken this very seriously.”
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office inspected 109 businesses, countywide. The businesses were each given a one-page notice, and then asked if they had any of the drugs. Fifteen stores had the products. Those stores were given the chance to turn in the drugs to the deputies, and seven stores did so. Workers at the other eight stores told deputies they either had to talk to their bosses, or that they would send the products back to the distributors for refunds.
Synthetic drugs have been known to cause hallucinations, seizures, tremors, nausea, panic attacks and psychotic episodes, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“These are extremely unsafe substances that are causing a great deal of harm,” Sheriff Ben Johnson said. “I’m very pleased that the state has taken action, and we’re going to use all of our available resources and continue working with local police departments to make sure that the law is vigorously enforced.”
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