The Missouri Western District United States Attorney announced that 21 individuals from the Springfield and Joplin areas were indicted in related cases pertaining to the sale and distribution of millions of dollars of synthetic marijuana. In total, 13 retail outlets were affected.
Among the business owners was Caitlyn E. Franklin, 24, owner of Hellbender Meadery, which was set to open last month at 3820 State Highway KK in Rogersville. Franklin was indicted with her father, Douglas K. Franklin, 54, and her brother, Brandon D. Franklin, 26, according to a press release.
The indictment of the Franklin family for synthetic marijuana trafficking was one of six of these similar indictments. They were made public after after several of the related arrests had been made. A federal grand jury in Springfield authorized these incitements last week.
These incitements are the result of a long term investigation conducted by local, state and federal agencies for the sole purpose of removing synthetic marijuana, otherwise known as K2 Incense from their state.
Synthetic marijuana — which is a mixture of herbs sprayed with chemicals that, when smoked, create a high similar to THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana — dominated headlines in the spring and summer.
Local Hospitals all across the state have been seeing a stark increase in reported cases of synthetic marijuana abuse. Soon, parents demanded that stores pull the substances from their shelves.
Eventually, lawmakers sprung into action and added several chemicals to the controlled substances list, including many of those used in synthetic marijuana compounds.
In June, Livingston County health officials declared synthetic marijuana an imminent health danger, and they, along with law enforcement officers, visited 10 local stores and confiscated more than 800 units of synthetic marijuana.
About two weeks later, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that lawmakers hoped would keep synthetic drugs off Michigan store shelves.
Synthetic marijuana stayed in the headlines in October when the county prosecutor’s office charged the owner of the Smokers Depot in Genoa Township and the store’s manager with selling synthetic marijuana laced with JWH-018, a chemical outlawed in 2011.
Earlier k2info.org reported that synthetic marijuana may cause kidney failure. In Oklahoma City, two teens were recently hospitalized after consuming synthetic marijuana, more particualrly the “strawberry fields” brand. Doctors from The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center say they’ve treated two teenagers in the past two weeks who allegedly got sick after smoking a form of synthetic marijuana.
One of the teens has to undergo kidney dialysis after his kidneys failed.
His mother, Rhonda Woodriff, said he had a lower back pain, was vomiting and was unable to urinate for two days.
“This is just dangerous,” she said. “It’s terrible. I don’t know how people can even make this stuff.”
Doctors say there have been at least 11 similar cases linked to synthetic marijuana nationwide.
Investigators with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs tell 2NEWS that the teens had smoked a strain called “Strawberry Fields.”
Spokesman Mark Woodward released the following statement:
“The public must understand that these synthetic drugs are not a safe alternative to traditional street drugs. We are seeing sharp increases in hospital admissions and deaths resulting from synthetic marijuana products and other similar products sold in gas stations. Parents should be aware of the stores their teens visit, the products they are buying, store receipts, and web sites they frequent. Many of these products are prohibited under state law. If you are aware of stores selling these synthetic marijuana products (“potpourri”, “insence” or “bath salts”) in your community, you are encouraged to report them to OBN or your local police department.”
The hospitalized teens are listed in fair and good condition.
If you suspect your child is consuming synthetic marijuana, despite popular belief, there are synthetic marijuana drug testing kits available at price points similar to real marijuana drug testing kits.