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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Synthetic pot eludes police crackdown



jazz.jpgPot is illegal. Imitators of marijuana, like those shown at left, are sold in convenience stores.

That's a frustration for police, our colleagues Will Hobson and Drew Harwell report here today. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri compares the fight to the arcade game Whac-A-Mole, because as soon as the state outlaws one compound used for fake pot, manufacturers come up with a new recipe.

This comes up this week after the death of 19-year-old Logan Kushner, who smoked "Jazz," a legal herbal incense that users say mimics the effects of marijuana, before he went for a swim in a creek and drowned Sunday morning. It likely wasn't the Jazz that killed him, but disorientation is believed to have either caused him to fall and hit his head or have difficulty swimming.

Jazz comes in small neon packages with a saxophone on the front and is available at gas stations and convenience stores across the Tampa Bay area, Harwell and Hobson report. Jazz's packaging notes that it complies with both federal and Florida laws. A 3-gram package can be bought for about $6.

Federal law bans certain chemicals that may be used in some synthetic drugs. However, because there is no reliable testing kit for synthetic drugs,  deputies cannot go after convenience stores that may be selling the banned substances. Police elsewhere in the country have raided stores for selling synthetic drugs only to find out that the substances they seized are actually legal.

It appears manufacturers will always two steps ahead of the law, so what, if anything, should be done?

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 2:55pm]


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