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Retailers Already Skirting Coming Federal 'Synthetic Marijuana' Ban

New alternatives are being developed faster than they're being outlawed.

January 03, 2011|Doug Magditch | dmagditch@kspr.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. —
K2, herbal incense, or synthetic marijuana... Whatever you want to call it, the federal government wants to see it banned.

In 2010, Missouri banned K2, but similar products still fill up store shelves. Now, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wants the alternatives banned, too.

The DEA wants to put a one-year restriction on the use of five chemicals (JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol) used to make synthetic marijuana.

The problem is, those five chemicals are not the only five out there. Manufacturers are already selling herbal incense without them, and the ban isn't even in place. Local retailers say they're already selling herbal incense that will stay on the shelves.

New alternatives are being developed faster than they're being outlawed.

"Everyone changes their business model to go with the times," said Terry Stone, manager of Paradise Arcade, back in August. That's when Missouri's K2 ban went into effect. "It's almost like they didn't pass a law against that at all."

Paradise, like many retailers, markets 'K2 alternatives.' It's herbal incense with different chemicals than those outlawed in the state.

"The new law, as far as K2 is concerned, hasn't hurt that portion of the business, because of the alternatives that are here," said Stone.

The store even runs a drive-thru in Springfield, selling the incense. It's in the "Dairy Scoops and Deli" building on North Glenstone. Paradise applied for a new business license at the location on November 4th, 2010.

Now that the federal government wants to outlaw the alternatives, manufacturers are adjusting again. Some are advertised products that are '50-states legal.' They even promise the toxicology reports to prove it.

Monday, no local retailers would go on camera. Those we spoke with on the phone say all the herbal incense they sell, is legal under state law, and the coming DEA controls.

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The DEA still has not released its final rule. Once it does, it will be illegal to buy or possess any product with the five chemicals. They'll be considered illegal for at least 12 months, while the government studies whether to permanently outlaw them.

We checked with the Springfield Police Department to see how often it's had to enforce Missouri's K2 ban. It says it has no records specifically listing K2.

Because K2 hit the market so fast, and was banned so fast, SPD says it doesn't separate
K2 arrests from other drug arrests. Public Affairs Officer Matt Brown says he can't remember any calls mentioning K2.

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