FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — With the newly adopted Georgia rule giving law enforcement the ability to confiscate synthetic marijuana only two days old, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Unit took more than 1,900 bags of the fake substance off the streets in a sweep June 13 of five local businesses.
According to Sheriff Ted Paxton, the Narcotics Unit went to five locations in the county and confiscated 1,939 bags of the synthetic marijuana that is commonly known as spice, “bath salts” and K2.
“One location, The Smoke Shop on Highway 9, had already complied with the rule and removed the items from the shelf. At all four of the other locations, we confiscated synthetic marijuana that we estimate having a value of $28,000,” Paxton said.
The other businesses are: Al’s Quick Stop, 1080 Dahlonega Highway - 324 bags were seized with an estimated value of $5,059.
Puff and Stuff, 410 Atlanta Road - 437 bags were seized with an estimated value of $7,001.34
King John Smoke Shop, 3280 Keith Bridge Road at Hammond’s Crossing - 1,073 bags were seized with an estimated value of $14,185.21.
Heads Off Smoke Shop, 2325 Atlanta Highway - 105 bags were seized with an estimated value of $1,755.
“We are only estimating the value of the substances," Paxton said. "We are going by the values that the businesses had listed on the product."
Paxton said the narcotics unit will continue to monitor the distributors of these substances.
“Until this emergency rule was passed on [June 11], law enforcement's hands were tied as far as dealing with synthetic marijuana,” he said. “We applaud the rule and see this as a huge step toward keeping these dangerous substances out of the hands of our citizens so lives can be saved.”
At the request of Gov. Nathan Deal, the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy (SBOP) adopted an emergency rule last week that classified newly discovered compounds of synthetic marijuana and giving Ga. P.O.S.T. certified officers the ability to enter any retail, wholesale, distributor or manufacturing facility to identify and seize drugs, compounds and articles identified in the emergency rule.
Officers would be acting as agents of the SBOP and the Ga. Drugs and Narcotics Agency (GDNA). The rule allows law enforcement to seize the new forms of the synthetic marijuana, but does not provide for an arrest.
“The General Assembly will have to address any criminal penalties for the new versions of the synthetic marijuana. Right now, all we have the authority to do is confiscate the product,” said Paxton.
Samples from the bags confiscated will be sent to the Ga. Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for testing. Narcotics officers are expecting to make visits to other area locations within the Forsyth County jurisdiction to assure they are complying with the emergency rule.