CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. –
Drug task force agents in Cherokee County say they have a new tool in fighting the most dangerous drugs to come into the area in 15 years, but agents say much more needs to be done to stop the spread of bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
Both balt salts and synthetic marijuana are made of complicated chemical combinations, some of which are still legal in Georgia. That puts police in the difficult situation of not knowing if they can arrest someone with the drugs.
“I’ve been doing this 36 years…I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said Phil Price of the Cherokee County Multi-Agency Narcotics unit.
The Cherokee County group now has a field test that uses a laser and a computer to identify drugs in seconds, as opposed to the weeks it could take the GBI crime lab.
“This puts us at a distinct advantage. We know, within a reasonable certainty, what the drug is and so we can go ahead and make the charge,” said Price.
Charges are one thing. Convictions are another. Price said that jurors have been reluctant to find people guilty because the drugs are sold in legitimate businesses.
Price believes there needs to be more government regulation over the products. Right now, manufacturers don’t have to list ingredients and people of any age can buy them.
“There’s really nobody watching…There’s more regulations if you run a bowling alley than if you make synthetic drugs,” said Price.
Police in Georgia have arrested people who have allegedly acting bizarrely after using bath salts. There have been at least two deaths attributed to synthetic marijuana in the state.
While the state has banned the substances, manufacturers have skirted the law by changing the chemical makeup and putting them back on shelves.