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Okeechobee
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Florida retailers warned again about selling ‘Spice’; Possession of synthetic marijuana products is now a felony

OKEECHOBEE—An “emergency rule” went into effect earlier this week that outlawed 22 new synthetic drugs commonly referred to as K-2 or Spice but, said a local detective, area stores are still selling the once-legal synthetic cannabinoid.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Dec. 11 that the new drugs are schedule I controlled substances.

This, stated the local detective, means if someone is caught with the synthetic drugs—whether they are in possession or are selling—it will be a third-degree felony.

The Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force detective said after the rule went into effect Tuesday, task force detectives then went to retailers in the county and warned them.

“We advised them of the law and told them if they’re caught it would be a felony,” said the detective.

With the addition of the new 22 synthetic drugs, that brings the total of outlawed chemical compositions to 169.

Governor Rick Scott signed a bill on July 1 that made it illegal to sell, manufacture, distribute or possess synthetic marijuana—or Spice.

Spice is referred to as a synthetic marijuana because it contains chemicals that mimic THC—the active ingredient in marijuana—and produces a marijuana-like high.

According to the detective even though the sale of Spice, which is also referred to as bath salts, is a felony, retailers are still making it available to their customers.

“They’re not selling it like they were, but it’s still being sold out of convenience stores and we’re still making undercover buys,” the detective said.

Normally, a 3-gram bag of Spice will sell for $10 to $14, added the investigator.

The task force is still conducting an investigation into the raid last month of a building at 1107 U.S. 441 S.E. where they found a suspected Spice lab. Inside the rented concrete block building the detectives found over 50 boxes of empty packages that were already printed with such names as Scooby Snax, Toxic Classic, Cloud Nine and Zero Gravity.

Detectives also found a large amount of a plant material lying on a piece of plastic, along with a small cement mixer and bottles of acetone. The investigators explained that to make Spice all one needs is a plant material, acetone and a powder that contains the illegal substance and will dissolve in the acetone.

These products are then put into the cement mixer where they are mixed until they bind together. Once it’s bound together the mixture is spread out on a piece of plastic and allowed to dry. When it’s dry, the material is scooped into a machine that shoots it into a pre-printed package.

All of these items were found in the building. However, simply having the chemicals was not illegal.

When asked, the task force detective said no arrest has been made as of yet but their investigation is ongoing.

Before anyone can be arrested for possessing or selling Spice, the product has to be sent to a crime lab where it’s analyzed to see if it contains any of the illegal chemicals.

The detective said it’s too early to tell if the addition of these new chemicals will put a stop to the sale of Spice. Most likely, added the detective, the manufacturers will simply reinvent their formulas.

While Spice produces a high that’s similar to that produced by pot it can also cause psychotic episodes, hallucinations, seizures, tremors, vomiting and, in some cases, death.

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