Athens Review, Athens, Texas

February 27, 2013

Cops seize synthetic marijuana

Chief: Chemicals used in product are ‘dangerous’

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

CANEY CITY —

A Caney City Police Department investigation led to the seizure of several packets of suspected “K2” synthetic marijuana from a convenience store in the city earlier this week.

Caney City Police Chief Kenneth Holder said the search warrant served Monday at A to Z discount grocery on State Highway 198 grew out of complaints that substances sold at the store had come into the possession of local youth. Holder said a female caller registered an anonymous complaint that her two sons had become ill after using a substance obtained from the store.

“We allowed the business to reopen but I’m going to petition the city council to revoke their business license,” Holder said. “I’m also going to petition the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to open an administrative investigation against the store.”

Police also arrested the store clerk, 29-year-old Suraj Khadka, for selling alcohol to a minor. Khadka was booked into the Henderson County Jail on the Class A misdemeanor charge and released Tuesday after posting $5,000 bond. Holder said Khadka told police he was temporarily working at the store while visiting from Virginia.

Synthetic marijuana blends have been around for about a decade. Prob-lems resulting from its use prompted the Texas Legis-lature to make possession illegal in 2011. Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt said synthetic marijuana is sold in several stores in the county, but it’s not something patrol deputies have seen often on the street. He said once the suspected synthetic marijuana is seized it has to be sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety lab for analysis to determine if it has the specific chemicals that are banned under the controlled substances act. 

Holder said the Caney City Council recently passed its own ordinance prohibiting sale of the substance. Holder sent the vendor a letter along with copies of the state law and city ordinance prohibiting the sale of synthetic marijuana. It then sent an underage female as a confidential informant to purchase the K2 substance and beer.

Holder said the K2-type substances look similar to marijuana that has been sliced and diced.

“It’s all different kinds of plant substances that have a chemical sprayed across them,” Holder said. “The chemical contains synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the active ingredient in marijuana.”

Tobacco shops and convenience stores carry the product under many different brand names such as “Mister Happy.”

Sometimes the substance is flavored to make it appeal to youths, giving it a grape or apple flavor.

“These chemicals are really dangerous,” Holder said. “It’s actually a felony to sell more than a gram of it, so it’s actually a higher penalty than selling regular marijuana.”