Police are hopeful that a new state law will curb the sale and use of synthetic drugs in central Wisconsin.
Starting July 12, synthetic marijuana products such as K2 incense, Spice and Dragon Eye will be illegal everywhere in Wisconsin. Synthetic marijuana is a chemical concoction smoked in a pipe or a cigarette that gives users a euphoric feeling similar to that of marijuana.
K2 incense is considered by some to be more powerful than natural marijuana. In Merrill, an 11-year-old child suffered seizures and was hospitalized June 25 after smoking synthetic marijuana with friends, according to a Merrill Police report.
A Wausau ordinance banning the drug’s possession and sale took effect in November and officers since have issued 15 citations for violations.
According to Wausau police records, officers issued eight citations to employees at Blazin Gifts, five citations to Lil’ Devil Glass and one citation to Glass Station. One woman was given a citation after she admitted calling for an ambulance when she became ill after ingesting synthetic marijuana, Wausau Police Lt. Ben Bliven said.
Josh Burk, owner of Glass Station, said he hasn’t sold synthetic marijuana since the city ordinance took effect, but police gave him a citation Feb. 2 after officers purchased synthetic marijuana from his business. Bliven said that the business has passed compliance checks since that citation was issued.
Burk said synthetic marijuana is in great demand and users will find places to buy the substance. He remains adamant that he hasn’t sold the substance since November and said police frequently are in his shop or send people inside to look for the substance on the behalf of officers.
“People look online for shops like us and assume we sell it,” Burk said. “Sometimes, we turn down 10 people a day.”
Efforts to reach owners at Lil’ Devil Glass and Blazin Gifts were unsuccessful.
A Wausau municipal citation for possession of synthetic marijuana is $120 and a citation for displaying or selling the substance ranges from $2,000 to $3,000. The state law makes possession or sale of synthetic drugs a criminal offense with punishments ranging from up to six months in jail for a first-offense possession charge to up to 40 years in prison for distributing or delivering synthetic stimulants.
The state law also bans methedrone, a stimulant related to amphetamines and commonly sold as “bath salts.”