Sunday, January 21, 2018
Public safety

Pasco sheriff talks of efforts against synthetic marijuana

NEW PORT RICHEY — On the heels of a Pasco Times story about the possible dangers of the sale of synthetic marijuana, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco spoke Tuesday about his plans to target synthetic drug use.

Synthetic marijuana is a leafy compound sprayed with chemicals that can cause hallucinations and extreme euphoria as well as irregular heartbeats and seizures, depending on the chemicals used.

Nocco said the Sheriff's Office has received many questions about synthetic drugs. He described the drugs' effects and noted that the drugs are sold at some local convenience stores.

Many forms of synthetic marijuana are legal. Nocco said Florida legislators banned the compounds used to create a product called Spice just a couple of months ago, and the Sheriff's Office began charging individuals with selling and manufacturing the product.

"Unfortunately, when the substance came back from the state laboratory, the results were negative, which means the distributors already changed the chemical compound so they are now outside the scope of the law," Nocco said.

Dr. Asher Gorelik, a psychiatrist and director of medical services for BayCare Behavioral Health, said manufacturers' persistent changes to the chemicals used in Spice and K2 make it hard for medical researchers to study the short- and long-term effects of using the substances.

Nocco said because manufacturers alter the chemical makeup of Spice so quickly, Florida's attorney general should have the power to classify such compounds as illegal without waiting until the next legislative session.

In the meantime, some Pasco residents remain determined to protest against stores that sell these products. Erik Suojanen, whose 17-year-old son Jake was hospitalized after using Spice, has organized a protest at 5 p.m. today at the Metro Gas Station on Little Road where he and others protested last week.

Nocco said he has joined the effort against stores that sell synthetic drugs as well. He said he and local merchants are developing stickers to be displayed in stores that do not sell synthetic drugs.

"If as a community we only buy at these stores and boycott stores that are selling this poison, then they will feel the pressure. They will either stop selling or lose revenue," Nocco said. "Either way, we are making our point and saving lives."

Mary Kenney can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247

Comments
Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

WEEKI WACHEE — The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday investigated the death of a Hillsborough County man in the Eagle’s Nest, an underwater network of caves where at least 11 others have died since 1981.Even experienced divers have lost th...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Bicyclist dead after being hit by car in Pinellas Park

PINELLAS PARK — A bicyclist is dead after he was hit by a car just before 10 a.m. Saturday morning, police said.Police were still investigating the crash in the 8700 block of 49th Street N late Saturday morning.Police shut down northbound 49th Street...
Published: 01/20/18

Motorcyclist crashes into Subaru while trying to flee Pinellas deputies

CLEARWATER — A 21-year-old fleeing from deputies on a motorcycle crashed into car while speeding away from a cruiser Friday, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Michael Brown, of Clearwater, was recklessly driving his 2016...
Published: 01/20/18

Clearwater man in critical condition after medical episode while driving

DUNEDIN — A 60-year-old Clearwater man who likely had a medical episode while driving is now in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after rolling over his car, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. A Largo police off...
Published: 01/20/18

Four people linked to Tampa carjacking captured hours later

TAMPA — It took officers just 27 minutes Friday night to capture four people who they said stole a car from its owner.The incident started outside the Ybor Coffee Shop at 5:45 a.m. A group approached the driver as he sat in his 2010 Toyota Corolla. T...
Published: 01/19/18

Florida National Guard soldier killed, five injured in Sebring crash

SEBRING — A soldier with the Florida National Guard was killed and five others were hospitalized after a multi-vehicle crash on Friday, officials said.The crash took place at about 1 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 27 and Hammock Road.The soldiers ...
Published: 01/19/18
Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

NEW PORT RICHEY — Two New Port Richey men face charges after Pasco County deputies say they stole about $11,000 worth of cellphones and cellphone equipment at a Metro PCS store on State Road 54.Robert Jackson and Ronald Hartshorn were arrested Wednes...
Published: 01/19/18
Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

When former Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died in a plane crash in November, he had amphetamines, morphine and the sleep aid zolpidem in his system, according to an autopsy report. Halladay, 40, died from blunt force trauma with drownin...
Published: 01/19/18
Former youth football president accused of stealing $29,000 from Pinellas league

Former youth football president accused of stealing $29,000 from Pinellas league

PALM HARBOR — The former president of a local youth football league is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the group and using it in part to buy a mobile home.According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, deputies on Tuesday arrested L...
Published: 01/19/18
Rapper Kodak Black arrested in Florida on grand theft, other charges

Rapper Kodak Black arrested in Florida on grand theft, other charges

FORT LAUDERDALE — Rapper Kodak Black has been ordered held without bail in Florida on seven felony charges that include child neglect and drug possession.The Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested the 20-year-old rapper, whose real name is Dieuson Octave,...
Published: 01/19/18