- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Police in Des Moines are taking a new tack in the battle to stop the sale of synthetic marijuana.

Instead of trying to prove the illegality of ingredients used to make the synthetic pot - often called K2 - they’re now going after the packaging and marketing of the drug, The Des Moines Register reported (https://dmreg.co/1g8TnEk) in its Saturday editions.

Iowa officials have tried for years to get synthetic drugs off the market by passing laws banning specific chemical compounds that mimic the effects of marijuana. Manufacturers of the drug have stayed one step ahead, tweaking formulas just enough to be technically legal.

Now, officials hope they can stop the drug by taking action against any substance - no matter what’s in it - that is presented to potential buyers as a way to get high.

This week, Des Moines police arrested seven convenience store clerks accused of selling synthetic marijuana. Charges against store owners, who allegedly made hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax-free income off the synthetic drugs, are expected soon, officials said. Among the items seized were financial records.

Police executed six search warrants, confiscated at least 1,300 packets of synthetic drugs and drug paraphernalia and seized 12 vehicles. The 3-ounce packets were sold for $15 to $25 each.

The six-month investigation was the largest probe into synthetic drugs in Des Moines’ history and represented a change in how Iowa cities and those across the country are dealing with the problem, police said.

Some of those arrested were charged with selling a controlled substance. But many of the 27 total charges accuse the suspects of either selling a substance that is technically legal, but telling the buyer it was illegal K2, or for telling the buyer the substance was legal but would have the same effects as an illegal drug. Police said both are illegal offenses under Iowa law.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com


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