More using fake pot products


Incense and potpourri products line shelves at a BP station in Brooksville on Monday. Use of the “fake pot” products is on the rise. Some manufacturers have altered ingredients to skirt bans.

Susan Casiglia started to notice disturbing changes in her son’s demeanor four months ago, about the same time he started bringing home colorful packages of potpourri and incense.

The packages warn that the contents are not for human consumption. But Casiglia said her son, looking for a high, smoked the products, which he purchased at a convenience store down the street in Brooksville.

On the verge of official adulthood, the teen developed a temper and was often agitated, Casiglia said. She pleaded with him to stop smoking.

“He says it’s legal, and what am I going to do?” she recalled.

When their confrontations became physical, Casiglia kicked him out and filed a restraining order.

The 48-year-old mother of three is convinced her son is a casualty of what many call “legal weed” or “designer pot” — herbs marketed as air freshener but laced with chemicals that, when smoked, mimic the high of marijuana.

Products with names such as Red Magic, Serenity and Blueberry Meditation, which hit the shelves of head shops a few years ago, can now be found in convenience stores for as little as $6.

Easily accessible and undetected in drug screenings, the products are popular with teens and adults alike, experts say.

But some people who smoke the products have begun showing up in emergency rooms suffering from agitation, paranoia, tremors, racing hearts, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, even psychotic episodes. And the number of reported poison cases in Pasco and Hernando counties is on the rise.

The trend has spurred action at every level of government.

On Wednesday, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration extended its temporary ban of five chemicals used in the products. States are creating their own laws, even as manufacturers alter the ingredients to try to skirt the bans.

The Florida Legislature is poised to pass a new law that adds compounds to the list of those already banned, and Hernando school officials are adding the products to their list of banned substances.

Vice detectives for the Pasco Sheriff’s Office are buying packages and sending them off to labs to be tested for illegal ingredients. And last week, Hernando deputies fanned out across the county to warn retailers that the products on their shelves might already contain illegal ingredients and that a host of other products will probably be outlawed soon, too.

The products can be purchased on the Internet, but Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis said he hopes the education campaign will make it more difficult for county residents — especially teens — to walk into a store and pay cash.

“It should concern these businesses that they could be doing some damage to their customers,” Nienhuis said. “We want to make sure we educate them so they cannot claim ignorance.”

• • •

Karen Arsenault wrinkled her nose Monday when Hernando Deputy Abraham Dowdell explained why he had come calling to Deep Blue Liquors.

“Our owners are highly, highly against that, so no worries here,” said Arsenault, a clerk at the store on County Line Road in Spring Hill.

By the end of last week, deputies had visited all of the 110 retailers on their list. Of those, 19 carried incense or potpourri products.

Several store owners and managers said they don’t carry the products because of health concerns and legal dangers. Some decided to take the products off the shelves before deputies left their stores.

Other retailers worried about losing money on inventory, said Hernando Sheriff’s Sgt. John Cameron. A Spring Hill liquor store owner who had just received a new shipment said she planned to sell the rest of it but would get rid of whatever she has left when the new law takes effect.

So far, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office’s random tests haven’t turned up any illegal substances, said spokesman Kevin Doll.

Synthetic cannabinoids were born in 1995 in a Clemson University laboratory, with medical research in mind. They are structurally different from tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, but they have the same biological effects on the human body.

The compound was first disclosed in a research paper in 1998, and entrepreneurs apparently re-created the chemical for commercial sale.

In 2010, the DEA announced its intention to ban five synthetic compounds by characterizing them as Schedule I narcotics, the most restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act. The ban took effect last March.

The six-month extension issued last week gives the agency’s researchers more time to study the myriad compounds that crop up in various products and decide how to permanently schedule the drugs, said DEA spokesman Jeffrey Scott.

It’s a big challenge as manufacturers tweak chemical compounds and change the names of products, Scott said.

“It’s something of a game of whack-a-mole at the moment,” he said.

Most of the chemicals are imported from manufacturers in other countries, especially China, but underground labs in the United States increasingly are producing and synthesizing them. The DEA is investigating several large-scale importers and distributors, Scott said.

Florida’s law took effect last summer, making sale or possession of more than 3 grams of the compounds a third-degree felony. Possession of 3 grams or less is a misdemeanor.

Attorney General Pam Bondi advocated for the legislation pending this session that will add to the list of banned chemical compounds in fake pot and bath salts, another stealth drug.

Marijuana shows up in field tests, giving deputies probable cause for an arrest, but there isn’t yet a field test for synthetic pot. Authorities can write a report and send the material off to the lab for testing. If tests come back positive for the banned compounds, the State Attorney’s Office can elect to prosecute.

That hasn’t happened in Hernando yet, but it eventually will, said Assistant State Attorney Sonny McCathran.

Statistics indicate use of the products is on the rise, despite the bans.

The number of poison cases involving synthetic marijuana reported in Florida in 2010 doubled last year, to nearly 500, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

The numbers are increasing locally, too, with 23 reported cases in Pasco last year and six in Hernando. Health officials say many people don’t report adverse effects or tell emergency room staffers that they smoked the products, though, so the numbers could be much higher.

The synthetic compounds bind and “hijack” brain receptors involved in an array of critical body functions, such as memory, motor control and decision making, said Marilyn A. Huestis, chemistry and drug metabolism chief at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Some of the compounds are many times stronger than THC, and the negative effects appear to be greater, too, Huestis said. Because products are manufactured without regulation, they could contain toxic contaminants.

The longtime physical and psychological effects are unclear. As a researcher, Huestis gives drugs to volunteers to study their effects on the body. She won’t do the same with these products — and the Food and Drug Administration wouldn’t let her if she wanted to — because of how little is known about them, she said.

That means active users are, in effect, making themselves lab rats.

“They’re experimenting on themselves with very dangerous chemicals,” Huestis said.

• • •

One day in January, someone tipped off administrators at Powell Middle School in Spring Hill that a student had some fake pot in his bookbag.

The boy admitted he smoked it, said Cameron, the Hernando sheriff’s sergeant who also supervises school resource officers.

“He said it helps him relax,” Cameron said.

Last week, a Hernando High student was caught with fake pot he said he bought at a downtown Brooksville gas station. As of last week, there had been seven or eight synthetic marijuana cases this school year in Hernando County, said Ricardo Jaquez, the district’s lead substance abuse educator.

The products are not currently on the list of banned substances in the Hernando student code of conduct, but likely will be by next school year, Jaquez said. Students found in possession of the products are interviewed and typically referred for drug counseling.

The Pasco school district considers fake pot banned “look-alike substances,” a spokeswoman said.

Anti-drug activists applauded the effort to educate retailers.

“If they start feeling some pressure about this product, they might figure it’s just not worth it,” said Sandra Marrero, vice president of the Hernando County Community Anti-Drug Coalition. “We already have enough problems with the drugs we have on the street.”

• • •

Last week, Susan Casiglia happened to walk into a Brooksville BP station not far from her apartment to find Deputy Dowdell talking to the woman behind the counter.

Flanking the woman were three display cases full of fake pot products: Cloud 9, Mad Hatter, Scooby Snax.

Most or all of it will probably be illegal soon, Dowdell told her. The woman, who turned out to be the owner and declined to give her name to a Times reporter, told Dowdell she was a single mom who worked hard to provide for her family, so she didn’t want any trouble.

As Casiglia waited in line, the owner started to stuff the packets and jars into a plastic bag. A few minutes later, the display cases sat empty.

“Thank God,” Casiglia said.

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Synthetic Drug Ring In Allentown Busted By DEA


Thats right 15 people were arrested in bust of alleged synthetic drugs operation run from Allentown warehouse.
NORRISTOWN, Montgomery County — The inventory in an old east Allentown warehouse was a drug user’s paradise: rows and rows of colorful glass smoking bongs, boxes holding thousands of grinders and scales, hundreds of rolling papers and about $200,000.

For store owners in the region looking to score chemically enhanced drugs like bath salts and synthetic marijuana, not to mention the goods needed to smoke them, J&L Wholesale Distributors at 1006 Hanover Ave. was the place to go, authorities say.

J&L’s lucrative enterprise, housed in a nondescript building near a day care center and in a school zone, kicked into high gear when synthetic drugs were declared illegal in Pennsylvania a year ago, authorities said.

But that came crashing down Thursday for J&L owner Kenneth Grossman when police rounded up him and 14 others, mostly from the Lehigh Valley. Authorities said they say helped push a relatively cheap high on drug users from the Lehigh Valley to New Jersey.

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All were charged with participating in a corrupt organization and profiting from the proceeds of illegal activity, both first-degree felonies, and related drug offenses.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said during a news conference with Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin that the elaborate drug sting, known as “Operation Bowls, Bongs and Beyond,” put a dent in the drug trade in both counties, yielded synthetic marijuana, two tractor-trailers filled with paraphernalia, plus several guns.

Police also seized more than $900,000, including money from the warehouse and several bank accounts, and dozens of common items such as soda cans, sugar containers and clocks that were hollowed out to create secret compartments used to hide drugs.

Grossman, 52, of 820 E. Chew St., Allentown also was part of a partnership that ran Insense Specialties, which supplied the illegal drugs, mainly synthetic marijuana and bath salts, authorities said. The others in the partnership were: Jason Grossman, 24, of 1847 Cloverdale Road, Bethlehem; Rajwant Thind, 30, of 6498 Overlook Road, Orefield; and Malwinder Mangat, 26, of 1016 Hilltop Court, Leesport.

Martin said the arrests show authorities are making good on their pledge last year to crack down on store owners selling the drugs that became illegal in August 2011 and their suppliers.

“Hopefully, they will get the message that we will prosecute,” Martin said.

Known as designer drugs, the substances are made from natural herbs and synthetic chemicals to mirror the effects of drugs like marijuana. But the drugs have been known to cause erratic and violent behavior in those who take them. Police say people high on the synthetic drugs have unusual strength and tolerance to pain.

Ferman said she was particularly disturbed that the drugs were targeted at youngsters, with packaging labeled “Scooby Snax” and with the Batman emblem. She pointed out an incident in June 30 during which a 20-year-old man from Upper Pottsgrove Township, Montgomery County, involved in a vehicle crash told medics that he was hallucinating after smoking a substance called “K-2” and took his hands off the wheel “to see what happened.”

“This is a huge, profitable business and these people are in it for the money,” Ferman said. “This is a community [in Allentown] where children are in the neighborhood. These are toxic, dangerous substances.”

Ferman said J&L became the prime target of the probe involving multiple police departments after investigators realized that items seized in store busts all led back to the warehouse. Among the stores that allegedly distributed the drugs and paraphernalia: Deli Mart, South Whitehall Township; Trexler Plaza Sunoco in Upper Macungie Township; the EZ Shoppe in East Greenville; Main Street Market in Schwenksville; and U.S. Gas in Upper Frederick Township.

Detective Joseph P. Kelly Jr. of Souderton police, who helped head the investigation, said Grossman even took his show on the road to branch out, bringing samples to an October 2011 “head shop” convention in Atlantic City, N.J.,

Police went as far as setting up a fake business in Souderton to order items from J&L, and used multiple informants to pin down all of the players.

Thind, identified in court records as manager of the Trexler Plaza Sunoco at 5917 Tilghman St., Upper Macungie, told police that Kenneth Grossman took a majority of the synthetic drug product orders and that Thind and Mangat filled the orders and sent the products to customers.

The others charged were employees of Grossman’s company or store owners who bought items from J&L and resold them.

They include: Kunal G. Patel, 42, of 377 Indigo Way, Upper Macungie; Jaymin G. Patel, 45, of 457 Wild Mint Lane, Upper Macungie; Dean A. Fenstermaker Jr., 29, of 4272 Windsor Drive, Upper Macungie; Jeffrey Robertson Jr., 25, of 10441 Trexler Road, Upper Macungie; Abdulah F. Soonasra, 64, of 1713 Brookstone Drive, Alburtis; Lisa A. Zupa, 35, of 233 Harvard Avenue, Palmerton; Mohammed F. Rahman, 42, of Lansdale; Ibrahim Fayez Saloum, 41, of Schwenksville; Amy N. Velazquez, 30, of Schwenksville; Yashvant M. Patel, 49, of East Greenville; Yogesh Patel, 44, of East Greenville.

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting all of the cases.

Heartbroken mothers and city’s emergency room doctors praise Gov. Cuomo’s crackdown on synthetic pot and bath salts



Gov. Cuomo is keeping the heat on the little guys in the big war against designer drugs.
This is welcome news to city emergency room doctors who have been rescuing way too many teenagers showing up with heart palpitations, hallucinations, high blood pressure and anxiety from synthetic pot and bath salts.
“Anything you can do to make these drugs a little more unreachable is a good thing,” said Dr. Lewis Nelson of NYU Medical Center. “The belief is that if it’s sold in a store, not by a corner drug dealer how bad can it be? This won’t stop people from using it all together, like any drug. But it will make people think twice.”
Cuomo’s move was also music to the ears of mothers like Deirdre Canaday of upstate New York, whose 26 year-old son, Aaron, never woke up after smoking a packet of “Mr. Nice Guy” in September.
And to Karen Dobner of Illinois, whose mild-mannered son, Max, 19, bought some iAroma at a mall and was so out of his mind after smoking it, he drove 100 mph through his suburban Chicago neighborhood and crashed through a house killing himself on impact.
“Good for Gov. Cuomo,” Dobner said. “[If] you shut down these local head shops or bodegas, they will stop poisoning our kids.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/heartbroken-mothers-city-emergency-room-doctors-praise-gov-cuomo-crackdown-synthetic-pot-bath-salts-article-1.1130426#ixzz22s8QhMFt

Legal but Dangerous: Synthetic drug causing problems in Casa Grande


The “spice” container reads: “Warning This Product is Not For Human Consumption.” It’s marketed as incense, herbs or potpourri, but you won’t find it at your local home or candle store. You’ll find this spice at the local convenience and liquor stores, gas stations and smoke shops.The problem with this dangerous drug is so big that President Barack Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 in early July. The law bans synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs like “bath salts,” which are commonly sold as plant food. They have nothing in common with the toiletries used to soften skin.

But the manufacturers simply change the formula slightly to stay one step ahead of the law.

No numbers are yet available for emergency calls resulting from using spice, but the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported more than 6,100 emergency calls about bath salt drugs in 2011 — up from just 304 in 2010 — and more than 1,700 calls in the first half of 2012.

What exactly is spice?

“People say that it’s synthetic marijuana,” said Cindy Schaider, executive director of the Casa Grande Alliance. “It’s not marijuana — in fact that’s part of the danger. People in the first place erroneously believe marijuana is safe — which it’s not — but then if marijuana is safe, then synthetic marijuana would be safe. Neither one is safe, but spice is a really dangerous drug.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines spice as a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana (cannabis) and that are marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug.

Spice looks like dried grass clippings or shredded plant materials, but it contains chemical additives responsible for mind-altering effects that have been linked to violent behavior across the United States.

According to the National Association for Addiction Professionals, there are two receptors in the human brain that react to cannabinoids. One reduces pain and the other allows people to “get high.” Synthetic or natural substances used to get high can have many other effects on humans: severe anxiety, panic attacks, disassociation, racing thoughts, hallucinations, rapid pulse (tachycardia) and death/suicide.

“The chemical in marijuana stimulates the part of the brain called the cannabinoid receptor and that is what gives them the feeling of intoxication,” Schaider said. “Spice has synthetically created a similar chemical — they spray it on these leaves so when you smoke it, it stimulates that part of your brain.”

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was able to get five of the major chemicals banned for a one-year period but companies that produce spice are constantly reformulating the chemicals to stay one step ahead of law enforcement.

What smokers say

It’s legal to buy yet everyone I interviewed didn’t want to provide a real name.

“James,” 45, smokes spice every day. “I’ve been smoking it for a couple years — it’s off the chain!” James said. “It’s awesome — for one thing it doesn’t show up on my job’s drug screen. I operate heavy equipment and am drug tested frequently.” James was constantly shifting and appeared nervous, while beads of sweat appeared on his face, despite the fact the interview was conducted in an air-conditioned building.

“You get the same effect as marijuana but you don’t get as sleepy or hallucinate — you get a high but it stops sooner — you stay high for an hour or two. I roll mine in a flavored blunt — try to cover up the taste.”

 

Mom, 40, and Daughter, 19, smoke spice together. This particular day they bought 10 grams of spice, the volume equivalent of $30 in marijuana. “We smoke spice because marijuana is too expensive,” they said.

Mom works in the behavioral health department at a Florence correctional facility. “Not only that but my job drug screens and this isn’t detectable. I’m a little scared and nervous about the things I’ve heard about it though,” she said.

“How people are ending up in diapers or losing their hair or have internal bleeding.” But that doesn’t stop them from using it. “It’s almost the equivalent of smoking marijuana,” Mom said. “Except this is a little more intense — it’s a quicker high but it goes away quicker too. There have been times when I smoked it and I’m sitting down — I have to literally think about what I’m going to do even if it’s just to go to the bathroom — I have to plan it out because I feel like I’m about to fall.”

Drivers under the influence of the drug may face charges of driving while impaired, said Officer Thomas Anderson of the Casa Grande Police Department.

Boyfriend, 28, and Girlfriend, 25, smoke spice regularly.

“I’ve smoked it quite a few times,” Boyfriend said. “It gives you a good high for 15 to 20 minutes. I’ve smoked some that has made me hallucinate — pretty wild.”

Girlfriend said she doesn’t believe it makes people sick.

“I think it’s just mass hysteria — it’s the legal way of smoking marijuana,” she said.

“It’s all a conspiracy made up by the government,” said Boyfriend. However, “I heard people died from it — that makes me nervous.”

Why do they sell it?

It’s legal to sell but the store owners don’t want to use their names.

One Casa Grande smoke shop owner said he didn’t know anything about it when asked if it was dangerous.

“It says not for human consumption,” he commented. “You seem to know more than I do about it.” Other questions received an answer of “no comment.”

A spokeswoman at Smoke’m, 1397 E. Florence Blvd., said the store sells spice as “exotic potpourri.” She said people are using it as synthetic marijuana. Her store doesn’t advertise the product and keeps it hidden behind the counter because children sometimes come into the store with parents.

“It’s [spice] not for human consumption — but it’s in my top six sellers — it’s very common. One of my employees got sick off the old stuff and he had to take a couple of days off from work — flu-like symptoms — it’s not for human consumption,” she said. The owner said she believes the drug will become illegal to sell eventually.

An employee at a liquor store in Casa Grande said she wouldn’t smoke it. She said the store has at least three regular customers, including one man who buys $30 a day in spice — that’s $900 per month.

All the stores I spoke with said they only sell the second generation of spice. However, one customer said he knew of one store that still had the original stuff — you just need to know how to ask for it.

After the first generation of spice and its chemical makeup were made illegal, developers of the product tweaked the molecular structure to avoid prosecution.

One family’s experience

Joe Rodriguez, 46, of Stanfield said he found out his 25-year-old son was smoking spice in November 2011.

“I didn’t know until I went through his room and found a little jar with a screw-on lid,” Rodriguez said. “I asked him, what is this?”

The son told him it was a legal form of cannabis since he couldn’t smoke pot at work due to drug testing.

Rodriguez said he noticed his son’s habits change — from the way he dressed to cleaning up his room.

“Stuff around the house started coming up missing — a PS3 I won at work, a watch and some other stuff,” he said. “I don’t know what he did with it — he just said he needed it. He acted totally different.”

The son had graduated from college with a computer science degree.

“This was a kid who could sit down, look at a computer and say ‘this is the problem’ without even touching it and now he’s forgetting it. My son taught me how to use a computer — he knows how to break them down, he knows code, he knows DOS. If you would have met him before he started smoking spice, he was respectful and a good kid.”

The son is now in the county jail on a misdemeanor charge for failure to appear in court. Rodriguez said one night his son got so angry he threw a speaker at his face, causing Rodriguez to need medical attention under his right eye. The son is scheduled to be released from jail later this month.

“Now he thinks somebody is following him, somebody’s bugging the house — he’s just paranoid,” he said. “This kid used to build robots in high school — this kid was smart.”

Rodriguez is worried the drug caused some permanent damage to his son.

“I know he’s not going to be the same,” he said. “But I’m hoping that he’ll stop it and move forward with his life because he’s a good kid.”

Affecting the community

“I’m really concerned about spice,” Schaider said. “We are part of the Pinal County Substance Abuse Council and put out a brochure each year about drug trends. This year our brochure is about spice and it’s perfectly legal to buy spice.”

Most employers screen with a general five-panel test, referred to as a NIDA-5. This standard test provides rapid results if marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines/methamphetamines, opiates and phencyclidine (PCP) are detected in the urine.

Donna McBride, spokeswoman for Pinal County Juvenile Court Services, said that last year the county was offered free testing for spice for all probationers.

“The numbers were quite high,” she said. “There is a specific test for spice — it’s quite frankly rather costly. If we have a probation officer that suspects a kid might be using this stuff, then they can request an additional testing.”

“When we test­ — we find kids using because it’s easily accessible,” she said. “Have we seen it increase? Yes, because it’s like a new fad — something that kids are going to gravitate toward — something new to try.”

McBride said that if the test comes back positive for spice, the probation officer sits down with the juvenile and the family to discuss counseling information and come up with a plan to help the juvenile. The juvenile is retested at a later date and faces consequences if the result is positive.

“If we start with this town, this county — and stop the sale of it,” Rodriguez said. “These kids are not going to drive to Phoenix to go get it. We can put a dent in stopping them from ruining our kids’ lives — or anybody’s lives.”

McBride offered up one way for the community to be more responsible.

“If you’re a business owner and you do drug testing, make sure that your drug test includes those drugs that are pertinent to our area, which includes spice and bath salts,” she said.

DEA raids smoke shops in Las Cruces, Sunland Park, Alamogordo


LAS CRUCES — Federal and local law enforcement officers raided several smoke shops Wednesday in Las Cruces, as well as one business in Sunland Park, as part of a nationwide investigation into the alleged production and distribution of synthetic drugs.

Masked agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, assisted by LCPD officers, were seen removing several large boxes of evidence from at least three retail locations near the intersection of South Solano Drive and East Idaho Avenue.

Federal agents also raided the Station Recreation smoke shop on 1621 Appaloosa in Sunland Park. DEA officials did not say Wednesday if any raids in southern New Mexico resulted in arrests.

An affidavit filed in support of the search warrants in the U.S. District Court for New Mexico indicates that 14 businesses in Las Cruces, Sunland Park and Alamogordo were targeted for allegedly selling illegal synthetic cannabinoids, commonly known as Spice, and synthetic cathinones, more popularly known as “bath salts.”

Two smoke shops in Silver City, Twisted Illusions and The Smoke Shop, were not raided and neither sells Spice, workers said.

In January, the DEA, joined by other federal and local law enforcement agencies, began investigating the smoke shops, often sending undercover agents to purchase suspected synthetic drugs, according to court documents.

“Each undercover operation has resulted in the seizure of individual-used sized containers containing a plant material that is believed to

have been treated with chemicals or a powdery-like substance,” DEA agent Jeffery S. Castillo wrote in his affidavit.

The raids in southern New Mexico appeared to be part of a coordinated nationwide investigation as the DEA on Wednesday also raided businesses in El Paso, Albuquerque, as well as locations in California, Utah, New York and New Hampshire, according to published reports.

“DEA agents are conducting numerous enforcement operations throughout the region … This is part of a bigger operation,” said Carmen Coutino, a spokeswoman for the DEA office in El Paso.

The search warrant for the businesses in southern New Mexico, signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Carmen E. Garza, authorized agents to seize written and electronic documents, financial records, suspected synthetic drugs and paraphernalia, as well as security camera recordings.

Witnesses at Somewhere Else Comics Games, one of 10 businesses in Las Cruces targeted by the DEA, said Wednesday that police officers entered the business with guns drawn, announcing they were raiding the establishment.

“They pat-frisked me and my son. It was very scary for us,” said one woman who declined to give her name. She and her 13-year-old son sat inside a vehicle outside the store at 1230 S. Solano Drive.

Authorities also raided Phat Glass, located next door to Somewhere Else Comics and Games, and Smokin Supply, less than a quarter-mile away at 1315 S. Solano Drive.

“They came in, guns drawn, told me to put my hands up and handcuffed me,” said Maurice Portillo, co-owner of Smokin Supply, who was not arrested and subsequently released.

Portillo said the DEA agents “tore” through his shop, turning around security cameras and taking cell phones, business records, as well as glass containers and herbal incense products that are often described as synthetic marijuana because of their chemical composition.

Portillo, a 29-year-old U.S. Army veteran and student at New Mexico State University, said he believed the products he sold were legal, noting that he bought them from a distributor who also provided literature vouching for their legality with DEA drug scheduling provisions.

“I don’t do any illegal business out here. There’s no history of anything illegal here,” said Portillo, who opened his business about six weeks ago. Portillo said the DEA agents did not tell him what they were looking for, and made several references to the operation being “Obama (expletive).”

“I was like, ‘This is just (expletive) politics …,'” Portillo said.

On July 9, President Barack Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, which instituted tougher criminal penalties for selling some first-generation synthetic drugs — such as K2 and Spice — as well as some newer ones.

In March 2011, the DEA “emergency scheduled” several chemicals often found in herbal incense products that make them chemically similar to tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

However, Castillo wrote in his affidavit that “clandestine manufacturers and traffickers” began distributing smokable cannabinoid products in an attempt to circumvent newly enacted federal and state laws.

Castillo said the criminal offenses possibly committed by the investigation’s targets include possession with intent to distribute analogs of a controlled substance, and selling drug paraphernalia.

Portillo, whose store also sells health items, regular tobacco products, cell phones, vaporizers and storage containers, said he never believed he was selling anything illegal and added that he cooperated with authorities. He also said the raid will only temporarily hurt his business.

“We’ll be all right. We’ll be back,” he said.

Brian Fraga can be reached at (575) 541-5462; Follow him on Twitter @bfraga

 

Closer look

The Drug Enforcement Administration, investigating the alleged production and distribution of synthetic drugs, obtained search warrants for the following businesses in southern New Mexico:

— Phat Glass, 1211 East Idaho, Las Cruces

— Phat Glass South, 306 Union, Las Cruces

— Phat Glass Too, 109 North New York, Alamogordo

— Phat Glass 3, 823 North New York, Alamogordo

— Sam’s Gift Shop and Smoking Accessories, 607-C South White Sands Boulevard, Alamogordo

— Neverwhere, 940 North Main, Las Cruces

— Somewhere Else Comic Books and Games, 1230 South Solano, Las Cruces

— Zia Tattoo, 1300 El Paseo, Las Cruces

— Station Recreation, 1621 Appaloosa, Sunland Park

— The Realm Hookah Lounge, 991 West Picacho, Las Cruces

— Smokin Supply, 1315 South Solano, Las Cruces

— Hookah Outlet, 1900 South Espina, Las Cruces

— Subherbia, 1200 East Madrid, Las Cruces

— Subherbia 2, 150 South Solano, Las Cruces
1:27 p.m.

LAS CRUCES — Federal and local law enforcement officers raided at least three Las Cruces smoke shops today as part of a wider investigation into synthetic drugs.

Masked agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, assisted by LCPD officers, are still on-scene at Phat Glass, 1211 East Idaho Ave., Smokin Supply, 1315 South Solano Drive, and Somewhere Else Comics and Games, 1230 South Solano Drive.

Police entered the comic store/smoke shop this morning with guns drawn and announced that they were raiding the business, said two witnesses who were inside the store.

Witnesses said the agents were “looking through everything” in the store, checking counters, receipts, and pat-frisking everybody inside the business and asking for their identifications.

Federal agents were also seen bringing evidence bags inside the stores.

DEA spokesman Carmen Coutino confirmed that the investigation was related to synthetic drugs. DEA agents in New Mexico and Texas have raided other smoke shops looking to confiscate synthetic marijuana, commonly known as SPICE, according to multiple media reports.

Coutino said more information will be released later today, adding: “DEA agents are conducting numerous enforcement operations throughout the region. This is part of a bigger operation.”

12:16 p.m.

LAS CRUCES — Shops near the corner of Solano Drive and Idaho Avenue may be part of a federal raid by agents looking to confiscate the synthetic drug Spice.

According to Sun-News reporter Brian Fraga, the Las Cruces Police Department is assisting the Drug Enforcement Agency in an investigation Wednesday at Phat Glass, 1211 E. Idaho Ave., Smokin’ Supply, 1315 S. Solano Drive, and Somewhere Else Comics and Games, 1230 S. Solano Drive.

 

Police entered the comic store/smoke shop this morning with guns drawn and announced they were raiding the business, two witnesses on scene said.

DEA agents are raiding locations across New Mexico, according to multiple media sources.

DEA agents raided at least one location in Sunland Park and KOB.com is reporting DEA raided 16 locations in Albuquerque today.

A spokeswoman for the agency told KFOX14 that they are looking to confiscate Spice.

Spice refers to a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana and that are marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Synthetic marijuana was banned in New Mexico in April 2011.

Heap Trip Herbal Incense Review


Ok what a name for a herbal incense “Head Trip”.  Some of us older guys remember the days of LSD and magic mushrooms.  So when we hear head trip that’s what comes to mind.  No this is not like that all.  This is a legal herbal incense spice called Head Trip and it’s great incense.

We were sent this herbal incense of head trip to sample and write a review on.  Once we got the package in the mail we opened it right up and were excited to see just what’s in the package.  Well it was a sealed baggie of HEAD TRIP HERBAL INCENSE.

My friend and I were like yea buddy let’s get on with this review.  We never write a review on a product we have not personally tried.  Now if you have read a lot of our herbal incense reviews you know that we don’t always write good reviews on every product we try.  There is a ton of crap herbal incense out there.  We have tried them all, and this is one of the best ones we have had the chance to write a review on.

Head trip herbal spice is not a new spice to hit the block.  This herbal spice has been in the game for a while and we tried it about a year ago.  At that time we were not writing reviews and honestly I have tied so many I really don’t even remember that one.

Ok so let’s get on with letting everyone know about this spice head trip.  The package is just like in the photo we have attached in the blog posting.  It has green packaging and has black writing with a skull on the baggie.

I cracked open this sealed baggie with my teeth an packed a fat pipe full of this head trip and let me tell you it taste great in my water bong.  Super smooth an burns just like hydo.  I was very pleased with the fast acting effects that head trip has.  Super fast effects, I mean don’t plan on smoking this before you’re on your way to moms for dinner let’s just saying that.  It lasted about 55 minutes pretty straight high then a really mellow feeling for about an hour after.  Very chill herbal spice.

As far as price I got this for free, but I have done some research on sites that sell it like 4 grams for $19.99 and you better believe that it’s worth every dime.  And im not talking dime bag. LOL

This is a great Aroma and Herbal Incense Spice I would say is a real party starter.

RACK CITY HERBAL INCENSE REVIEW


Got to start off with the packaging on this spice.  Rack City Herbal Incense has a FAT ASS on the blends packaging that is for sure.  Now for all you rappers out there, this packaging makes since. I think it is funny as hell nothing like smoking a fat ass to get you high.  Best way i smoke this herbal spice blend is with the opposite sex thats for sure.  I dont think you should sit around with 3 guys and smoke on some rack city just say’n.

Ok enough with the jokes lets get on to this rack city spice review.  This is a pretty new blend that has hit the streets with in the last couple of months.  Really from what we know it has not taken off very well and not alot of people are smoking on it.  We got our hot little hands on a 3 gram bag of it.  Since we are guys first thing we did is call up a couple of our home girl smokers to come over and hit this! – The blend man, the blend!

Did not take long at all for the effects to kick in and it was pretty straight. I would rate it about 6.5/10 over all.  After i smoked it i know why it has not really taken off on the streets.  Reason is that it hits you really fast but the effects do not last long at all. I mean it was only like 15 minutes and it was completely gone.

Now most of the herbal incense blends that i have smoked last about 45 minutes then about an hour of chill time.  So 15 minutes is not cutting it rack city bitch!  For my review i am going to say all this blend has going for it is the packing and the catchy name.  I mean rack city bitch, rack rack city.

But for a herbal potpourri spice, not worth the money. Not when there is other blends out there that are amazing.

Aroma 3/10  Not good.

Lasting 2/10 Weak

Packaging 8/10 Funny as hell, and hey who dont like chicks ass’s?

Broward may outlaw bath salts, fake pot, aggressive panhandling


Broward County may join the legal crusades against trendy synthetic drugs and aggressive panhandlers.

At their last meeting before a two-month summer recess, Broward commissioners Tuesday asked their attorney to draft laws on both hot issues, to be voted on later this year.

The laws, if passed, would apply countywide except in cities that have conflicting rules on the books, the county attorney’s office said.

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  • Sunrise expected to ban designer drug sold as 'bath salts'

Since the Miami “zombie” attack in which Rudy Eugene attacked a homeless man, eating part of his face, the use of bath salts as a mind-altering drug has drawn wide public attention. Police are looking into whether Eugene, whom they shot and killed, was under the influence of bath salts before the attack.

Disturbing accounts of people smoking herbal incense as a synthetic version of marijuana also are prompting action to outlaw sales of that substance.

Broward commissioners appeared less enthusiastic, though, over a proposal to outlaw aggressive panhandling, suggested by Commissioner Chip LaMarca. The city of Fort Lauderdale passed an anti-begging law recently, and LaMarca said he’d like to see Broward follow suit.

Visitors shouldn’t be verbally accosted by panhandlers, he said.

But his colleagues voiced numerous concerns, including Mayor John Rodstrom’s repeated worries that the county’s jails would fill to overflowing if the law is passed.

Sheriff Al Lamberti said last week that the jails are at 92 percent capacity, and he’d have to reopen the county stockade if the population passes its maximum.

Commissioner Sue Gunzburger said she’s never had a problem once she says no to people selling items from the street corners and medians.

“I realize it’s a problem for some,” she said, “but we also have to protect their First Amendment rights.”

Commissioners also on Tuesday put some bite into several new laws passed recently, enacting fines of $250 per violation for the first offense, and $500 for subsequent violations.

Here are the laws the fines apply to: a new tow truck ordinance, which attempts to infuse more customer friendliness into operations; a law banning the sale of smoking pipes and devices to minors; a law making it illegal for junk dealers and scrap metal processors to pay cash or to buy restricted items; and a law requiring gas stations to post a phone number or provide an intercom system so disabled drivers can call inside for help pumping gas.

Buy Herbal Incense


In today’s market the internet is flooded with head shop webstites and blogs all filled with information about herbal incense.  There are so many mom and pop shop and local gas stations selling all different blends of potpourri herbal spice.  It can be a little confussing to fiqure out who or where to start shopping to buy herbal incense and what blends.

We have been in the herbal incense game for over 3 years and let me tell you there is some amazing herbal incense out there and also some real shit spice. Here at http://incenseherbalreviews.com there is a group of 12 of us that all get together and try different blends and jump on the internet and order our staff of herbs from.

So we want to give you a quick review of where to buy the cheapest and strongest blends of herbal incense from.  Not only that but we are going to take 3 years of research from all 11 of us and get you the information that you are looking for.

There are so many people that have crossed over to herbal incense because of many things going on in there life.  I hear from a lot of users that there on probation and don’t have any other options, or there job drug tests them.  We know of several users in the professional fields that tired it and just love it and say its better then Hydro Marijuana and will never look back to pot.  I personally feel its a great legal high and herbal incense is its on bread of high, not like anything else on the planet.

So here all the tips you need to know, the best source for buying herbal incense is http://someincense.com  They have been around longer then all the other companies and there customer service is best in any business. Shipping has always arrived on time an if you ever need to contact them they have a phone number on there site.  That’s a huge deal in this industry as you can tell there is thousands of sites to order from, 98 percent of there herbal incense sites do not offer a phone number email only.

Are you fucking kidding us, what if there is a problem, or what if i order $400 bucks worth of herbal spice and never get my order?  Yea well we have done it a million times and been down that road so many times it is not even funny.  Keep in mind when these sites pop up over night you might want to check there facebook page an make sure you read reviews from users and make sure you getting what you spend your hard earned cold cash on.

Ok now lets move on to our top herbal incense blends and were gonna tell you what to buy to get the most BANG for your BUCK!

2 for $25 Jonny Clearwater's Juicy Lucy Herbal Incense (3.5 grams ea.)  ORDER HERE 

2 for $25 Jonny Clearwater’s Juicy Lucy Herbal Incense (3.5 grams ea.)

A juicy summer afternoon treat.

Juicy Lucy Herbal Incense is a brand new aromatic potpourri or herbal incense, if you will. This blend of aromatic potpourri is engineered to ease the stresses of work, school, home, etc. Powerful enough to easily blow your hair back. The recent ban on certain compounds does not affect our scents at all, and they also use the freshest and highest quality ingredients to create an uplifting fulfillment that is only a few clicks away.

2 for $25 Mad Hatter Kush Cloud 9 Herbal Incense (3 grams ea.)ORDER HERE 

2 for $25 Mad Hatter Kush Cloud 9 Herbal Incense (3 grams ea.)

Cloud 9 Mad Hatter Kush is a blend of Damiana w/ Kush scent having strength of 5 and packaged in
a 3 gram bag.

2 for $18 Down to Earth Skunk 101 (1 gram ea)

Down2earth Climaxxx Skunk 101 is a blend of Damiana w/ a Skunk 101 scent and packaged in a 1 gram bag.

 

So these are the TOP 3 Herbal Incense Spice Blends on the market, the best herbal incense shop to buy from and all the information you need to have a great fathers day!  Now get out that credit card and order your self some herbal incense spice for father day and site back and enjoy it.  And shit if your not a father then enjoy the fucking day!   Puff Puff Pass!

Just to make our point clear, we do not have anything to do with someincense.com  Were just a group of smokers that enjoy life and like to share our knowledge with others so they dont her fucked over like we have in the past.  There is a ton of bull shit herbal incense out there.  Dont get scammed people, and make sure you only smoke the best blends.

45 State Legal Herbal Incense “Legal High” Scooby Snax Hydro Double Review


So if your a herbal incense smoker then i am more then sure you have heard the news about all the states that are cracking down on herbal spice potpourri. Well we have search the internet for companies that offer legal herbal incense in your state and we have found a review of a great product we know you Must Hear About.  

So the guys over at someincense.com have a new line of herbal incense that is 45 State Legal.  Yes that is not a mis print its legal in almost every state in the United States.

As soon as we learned about this great line of products we had to buy some and give it a try. We ordered several of the new Scooby Snax Herbal Incense from someincense.com and let me just say, This is better then the old stuff. 

Simply put its amazing and we have already placed a larger second order. First let me start with the 

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Scooby Snax Hydro (4 grams ea.) 45 State Legal      “10/10 Star Review”

This was a heavy hitter and really fast acting herbal spice. Once we took a hit of this it was super smooth and sort of slow burning. Let me tell ya the name simply says it all, This shit was Hydro for real. We only ordered one snack and after 20 minutes my friends and i were wishing we had more. Hince the 2nd order we already placed. Haha.

But to our surprise it held up to its name Hydro, that 4 gram bag lasted the two of us 4 days. it burns so slow and is so strong that we had to give it a 10/10 Yes really. We dont really think anything is a 10 – Cause we all know there is always room for improvement but this is the real deal. After much time and smoking we are giving it a 10 star review. – Meaning you must order this scooby snax hydro herbal incense for your self and see that its kick ass.

You can check it out and order here 

Scooby Snax Blueberry 45 State Legal Review ” 2nd Review”

Ok so we also ordered the Scooby Snax blueberry, here is our review.

First let me say this is like getting smacked in the face with a blueberry pie – no wipe cream though. It was also amazing but its very strong. The scent of blueberry is scented just perfect and its like a cool smoke that almost seems to come out our mouth as a blue flame.

Super blue, its really packaged well and burns perfect. Scooby Snax herbal incense has really worked its way up the ladder and is becoming one of my all time favorites for sure. The blueberry scents is very addictive and almost feels like i picked the berry right off the fucking tree. Yea its that great.  The herbal spice has a texture that is good, like shack with out steams and really sticky just like we all like. 

We rolled this herbal incense in to a joint and it burned super – with a blue flame. It rolls up really nice and does not have large steams sticking though the rolling papers like some other herbal incense. 

This is also anouther herbal incense offered by someincense.com and is also legal in all 45 states.

There is a very kick ass bud and if you like blueberry then you must give it a toke.

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Scooby Snax Blueberry (4 grams ea.) 45 State Legal    ” 9/10 Star Review”

After smoking all 4 grams of our blueberry scooby snax herbal spice we give it a 9/10 review. It’s great smoke but we dont just issue 10 stars like joints. You gotta work for it. 

Want to try it for your self or learn more click here

So after smoking and toking and puffing and passing – here is our reviews. Hope you enjoyed then and as always drop us a line and let us know your experince with herbal incense and we might just publish it on our herbal incense review blog. 

Puff Puff – Pass “Never Fuck Up The Rotation Guys & Gals”