"Synthetics Uncovered - Part 2" - Investigation Of Synthetic Drugs In The Permian Basin 11/1/12
CBS 7 News Reporter
November 1, 2012
Ector County, TX - It happens every day; smoke shops and adult book stores selling synthetic drugs in Ector County. Now it’s getting in the hands of minors.
After talking with a 13-year-old boy who says he purchases synthetic marijuana at local stores, we hired a private investigative team that went undercover.
Within minutes they purchase synthetic marijuana. It's labeled "not for human consumption" and marketed by businesses as incense and potpourri. Stores signs say 18 and older allowed, but they never asked the young investigator for her I.D.
The Drug Enforcement Agency says keeping businesses in line and cracking down on the sell of these synthetic drugs is a challenge..
"They [these businesses] are walking a fine line between what's legal and what's illegal. But again if they are selling an illegal product and they are not marketing for that…you and I, as common sense citizens can come to that conclusion. But you also have to show criminal intent in what the individual is doing,” said Midland DEA agent Dante Sorianello.
Although federal law has banned many ingredients in synthetic drugs, chemists continue to change the chemical compounds. This switch is making the drug legal.
It's a barrier that local law enforcement has to deal with on a daily basis.
"We have to try to figure out how to battle it as far as the different chemical compounds that they change all the time, which is a major problem with it. You know you can test it, one deal will pass. You test a different one they come up with the next time they make a batch and it won’t pass," said Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson.
Local law enforcement say Ector County is a distribution pipeline for drugs and these synthetics are a growing trend, putting more stress on officers.
"Synthetic narcotics are illegal period. No one can purchase those legally. They can’t be purchased. They can’t be sold. They can’t be possessed, legally," said Lt.. Mike Gerke with the Odessa Police department.
In our investigation, we caught a clerk at a local convenience store selling “Kush”. The marketed the drug as potpourri, but it’s used as synthetic marijuana. So we went into store and asked the manager why they are allowing this to be sold.
“The stuff we sale is legal. Whatever we’re selling is according to state law. It’s legal,” said the manger at “One Stop” convenience store.
While we were in the store, we saw synthetic drugs behind the counter. They even sold it in front of our face.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Center, the chemicals in synthetic marijuana are 3-to-5-times more potent that real marijuana. That can be especially detrimental to a young person, causing long-term damage to the brain.
It’s a problem founder of New Day Counseling Anna Scroggins sees every day.
"It’s leaving them with no conscience. They are making these decisions with no hesitation and no fear of the consequences, regard for the law or compassion for their family. So it’s leaving them with what we would call cognitive impairment," said Anna Scroggins, founder of New Day Counseling Founder.
Scroggins believes there is an answer to the loop hole in the law, she’s pushing for an Odessa city ordinance banning the sell of all substances that imitate an illegal drug.
"They had a business before these synthetic cannabinoids came out, they don't need this… they are killing our youth. They are killing our future," said Scroggins.
During our investigation, the private investigator went into 8 different adult bookstores, convenience stores and smoke shops. Four of which sold synthetic drugs, marketed as incenses.
Anna Scroggins with New Day Counseling has started a petition asking for signatures to get the ordinance in place. For information on that, contact her at 432-332-5645 or click here