NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - After the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office received tips about two stores selling synthetic marijuana, deputies confiscated several pounds of the drug known as K2.
Earlier Tuesday, the brightly colored packets of K2 with provocative names like "Mr. Happy," "Sexy Monkey," and Klimax" were on shelves in Nacogdoches County stores. The synthetic marijuana is marketed as potpourri and aroma therapy.
So far, two Nacogdoches County stores have voluntarily turned their merchandise over to authorities.
"They have basically told us they are out of the business," said Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges.
Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges said in a press release that on September 1, 2011, the Texas Legislature passed several new laws against synthetic marijuana in the Texas Health and Safety Code. At that time, several key components were made illegal.
Bridges said since that time, manufacturers of the drug have been attempting to skirt the system. As a result, they have continually been changing the ingredients in synthetic marijuana in an effort to bypass the law.
"We are seeing this drug more and more on our streets and it is becoming increasingly popular with our youth," Bridges said. "Right now when we come across the drug, all we can do is seize it and send it off to the lab for testing. Law Enforcement authorities have to wait for several months for the results of lab test results to see if the drug contains the compounds that have been banned illegal.
If the results from the laboratory test are positive, then law enforcement authorities can seek or obtain arrest warrants, Bridges said.
"When we get the results back from those test we will be able to know what different name brands are in violation of the law," Bridges said. "This will help the Sheriff Office be more aggressive in enforcing the current law."
The press release stated that the NCSO is seeking voluntary compliance from the stores that are selling the synthetic marijuana. Bridges said in the press release that he does not believe the businesses that are selling K-2 are well-informed of the legal consequences that can occur if they sell products that contain the banned compounds.
According to the press release, most of the packages of K-2 that are sold at stores have no information on them about the manufacturer. As a result, stores may be unknowingly selling a banned compound form of synthetic marijuana. Bridges said, in all, there are about 30 different brand names of synthetic marijuana being sold in Nacogdoches.
"I mean this is it for this packaging right here," Bridges said, pointing to one of the K2 packages. There's nothing on the back of it. It doesn't state what chemicals are in it our anything. So, a store could purchase this and put it out on the shelf to sell."
Bridges said selling just four grams or one package of the material is a felony of the first degree.
"As you can see, the consequences can be very serious," Bridges said. "Then we have to look at the health and safety issue that the drug presents to our general public."
Bridges said synthetic marijuana has some serious side effects. He said one of the reasons why businesses shoudln't sell synthetic marijuana is the fact that school-age kids are often the biggest consumers of K2 products.
"There have been numerous reports of many using the drug that would later have to be institutionalized in a mental facility," Bridges said. "We are seeing an increase in the use on our streets and an increase in patients that have used the drugs in our hospitals."
Clayton McQueen, an investigator with the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office said the effects are often similar to the ones caused by dangerous drugs like PCP and methamphetamine.
"Some of them are violent, and some of them are very sick," McQueen said.
Bridges said parents of teenage children need to make it a priority to talk to their kids about the dangers of synthetic marijuana, or K2.
The Nacogdoches County Sheriff said he is urging other stores in the county to voluntarily remove any products that may be synthetic marijuana from their shelves. If they don't, they may wind up with a hefty fine or a prison sentence.