Police say there’s an ongoing war against the public’s journey to find the latest “high” — but what if the outlet they find is legal?
Herbal products sold in local head shops as incense apparently mimic the effects of marijuana when smoked. But unlike marijuana, they’re legal and undetectable in drug tests.
The incense contains a mixture of herbs and spices along with a compound known as JWH-018, a synthetic cannabinoid first used in scientific research with properties similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive substance in the cannabis plant.
Serenity Now, a product sold online and at Smoker’s Edge in Shelby and Lowell, has been identified as one of the products purported to give users a marijuana-like euphoria. Other products known as “K2,” “Spice,” “Genie” and “Zohai” are also said to contain JWH-018.
‘We were dealing with Salvia, now this’
Officials in the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office COP (community-oriented policing) division made a traffic stop near Smoker’s Edge a few weeks back, finding Serenity Now after a search.
“Had it in a small Ziploc bag,” said Sgt. Chris Hutchins, part of the narcotics division.
While a growing number of states are legalizing marijuana for medical use, state lawmakers in Missouri and Kansas could ban fake pot just like the real thing. North Carolina has not considered a ban, but last year, it was the 14th state to outlaw Salvia divinorum, a different mint-like herb that has hallucinogenic properties.
“We were dealing with Salvia, now this,” Hutchins said.
Hutchins said the Serenity Now product was explained as “getting you so high, you’ll freak out.”
Though Hutchins said there’s been only one such discovery locally, he feels it will be more than just a single, isolated case.
“The younger generation is just attracted to that,” he said. “I don’t understand it.”
Their fascination materializes in searching for the latest way to “get high,” Hutchins said.
“It’s on YouTube, Google, everything,” he said of Serenity Now and similar legal products.
Public action could determine when, or if, Serenity Now is scratched from store shelves.
“More problems means legislation could come sooner than later,” said Hutchins.
February 26, 2010
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County cops aware of “fake weed”: Serenity Now mirrors affects of marijuana but legal