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K2 and other Synthetic Substances Banned in Missouri

Saturday, users snatch last legal batches

August 27, 2011|Mary Moloney, Jason Crow | Reporter, Photographer

Springfield, MO — With the stroke of a pen, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon made the sale, distribution or possession of synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cocaine illegal.

Starting Sunday, people who have k2, bath salts, and other substances can be charged with a felony.

To read the new law, click here. The bill summary is here.

Yet for many around the Ozarks, the law is an infringement on people's rights.

Saturday, Troy White was looking to buy a package of the soon-to-be outlawed substance.

"I do it. I drink a beer. It's not going to hurt anybody," he said.

Danny Helton is another user of synthetic weed. He picked up a package of Cloud 10 Storm, a product marked as incense at a Springfield gas station.

"It's a nice, mellow buzz. After a hard days work, you like to come home and relax. And that's what I use," said Helton.

Helton ran into a friend of his, Brandon Asberry, who was also talking about grabbing a last minute package of incense to smoke.

"I'm a business man and it keeps me settled down a little bit," said Asberry. "I don't have to go to parties and stuff, I can just sit at home and chill at night. I don't see nothing wrong with it."

However, many other people around the Ozarks do. KSPR News posed the question on our facebook page asking viewers about their thoughts on the controversial substance. One described a former lover being "violent and abusive." Another described "hallucinations (that) have lasting effects for days."

According to legislative investigators, the popular synthetic cannabinoid K2 is blamed for at least one death in the country. In Greene County, a handful of people were treated at emergency rooms after the legal drug was smoked.

"Everybody starts somewhere. To start, you know, you get on the bad track. You start with something and you look for more and more and more. And at the end of the day, you are going to end up with something bad," said Luttef Chaudhry, a co-owner of a gas station that used to sell the substances.

Yet some users don't care about the warnings and will pay up to $40 a gram for something legal. Asberry said he smokes similar products daily and spends roughly $100 a week.

"We are in a deficit. They are complaining government's gotta stop spending, government's got to do this. Put a tax on k2. There's a billion bucks," he exclaimed.

For Chaudhry's shop, sales of the drug help the business stay alive.

"Here, we would say it was keeping us afloat," said Chaudhry. "So, basically don't know what's going to happen after this, but we'll see."

Saturday, many Springfield stores who sell the synthetic substances almost had a little bit of a fire sale. Signs for 8 balls and other products on the banned list were on sale.

For Helton, who spends about $200 per week on the incense for himself and friends, the sales help the sting of the ban.

"I got a discount, that's about the only good thing today. I'm sorry to see it go," he said.

Although the banned list just became a little longer, many are waiting for the next drug to hit the market.

"I guess I won't smoke it anymore, but they got some new stuff," said Asberry. "So, we'll see what it's like."

The Springfield Police Department will be on alert for anyone who is caught with the outlawed substances.

In the summary of the new law, it states "any person who possesses any controlled substance except 35 grams or less of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid will be guilty of a class C felony. Any person who possesses not more than 35 grams of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid will be guilty of a class A misdemeanor."

In the state of Missouri, a class C felony can mean a prison sentence of up to seven years.

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