K2, Spice, Jazz, Hush, synthetic marijuana, call it what you will; it’s illegal in Hillsborough County and law enforcement agencies want it off the streets and out of kids’ hands.
That’s why the county passed a local law banning its sale, production and distribution.
That’s why the Hillsborough’s sheriff’s office, consumer protection agency and code enforcement agency have been teaming up to crack down on its sale.
That’s also why they’ve made it easy for residents to report its sale.
“As you can tell from looking at thePoison Control website or (U.S.) Centers for Disease Control, the chemical compounds they use can cause some serious damage and serious issues with those who ingest it,” explained Kevin Jackson, chief investigator with the county’s consumer protection agency.
Jackson said local efforts to crack down on synthetic drugs have begun to force sales underground.
“You can walk into most retailers and you’re not going to find it,” he said.
That, however, doesn’t mean stores aren’t still selling synthetic drugs, which can fetch up to $50 a packet.
“You have to ask the drug dealer behind the counter,” he said, adding that some stores have customers use code words to request the now-banned substances.
While the days of seeing packages of “Scooby Snax” and other synthetic drugs out on store counters are gone, there are some telltale signs a store is selling, Jackson said.
“If you go to one of these places and they sell it, (you’ll see) empty packets on or around the premises,” he said. “That’s a way to spot it.”
He also recommends parents talk with their kids about the dangers of using the chemical laced herbs.
So, how can parents and other concerned residents help keep these drugs off the streets? Jackson said it’s pretty simple to report suspected sales.
- Call the county’s consumer protection agency at 813-903-3430
- Call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS
- Visit the consumer protection agency online to file a complaint over the web
The county announced its most recent crackdown – Operation K2 – on Aug. 14. That joint agency investigation has identified at least 10 retailers in the county who continue to sell synthetic drugs.
One retailer, the Country Food Store in Seffner, now faces potential civil fines in excess of $1.2 million, according to an email from the county.