Five Arrested in Designer Drug Sweep

With real marijuana being grown by the acre, apparently the market for the fake stuff is still pretty robust. A grow operation in Faulkner County netted more than two million dollars worth of plants, according to police. No one was immediately charged, but the cops pulled some two thousand plants. Meanwhile, a sweep in Arkansas resulted in the arrest of six for selling phoney, “designer” marijuana.

The sweep to nab retailers carrying products containing synthetic cannabinoids (which mimic the active ingredients in marijuana). The actual brand names constantly change, but some are: Spice, K2, and a variety of incense type products.

"Many people have the misconception that these drugs are not dangerous or that they are not illegal," U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Christopher Thyer said. "Both of those two assertions are categorically false." (Quoted at Arkansas Online).

The nationwide sweep, designed to arrest and prosecute the owners of retail establishments that carry the once legal, fake marijuana products, is called Project Synergy and includes law enforcement activity across 35 states. Overall, 75 arrests have been made and more than $15 million in assets seized under forfeiture laws.

In one of those “too strange to be fiction” moments, the name of our state’s part of the operation was “Operation Spicy Possum” – a combination, according to a spokesperson of “spice” from one of the product names, and the way a possum plays dead, but isn’t. The name seems to refer to an easing of enforcement to allow businesses to believe they could get away with selling the products.

Users sometimes purchase fake marijuana and other designer drugs because they want to get high but fear drug tests. The compounds in these items do not show up as a positive drug test.

One surprising part is why an otherwise legitimate retail business owner would risk the possible 20 year sentence, along with the fines and forfeitures, just to sell fake weed. The only ready explanation is the lure of easy money and a belief they would get away with it.


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