Synthetic marijuana still an ongoing issue despite new laws

ELKHART, Ind. -- About 25 compounds found in synthetic cannabinoids were banned back in July, but packets of chemical drugs containing the illegal substances are popping up by thousands in Michiana.

Elkhart police said officers seized over 3,000  small bags of Kush, Energy Never Dies, Barely Legal, and other brands, totaling a street value between $30,000 and $60,000.

And, in Goshen, police said officers thought they caught a teenager rolling weed, but the teen confessed it was synthetic marijuana he had bought at a local gas station. That tip led detectives to two gas stations, and over fifty packets of the chemical drug.

Detectives told ABC 57 they seized 56 baggies at the Marathon station located at 501 E. Madison St., which is just across the street from Chandler Elementary.

Officers said they also found several packets at the Phillips 66 gas station at 1010 W. Plymouth Ave., which is just across the street from Goshen Middle School.

Detective Kevin Miller said selling the drugs that close to a school could enhance the crime to a felony, just like the marijuana law.

“It’s illegal just like any drug, it’s a controlled one substance, it’s just like any drug out there, obviously it’s pretty brazen once you are aware that it is illegal,” said Miller.

Miller said it wasn’t until the Goshen Middle School resource officer caught five students smoking synthetic cannabinoids back in the spring that the police department learned the popularity of the drug, so officers started educating parents and the community.

“At that point, the school resource officer actually put together a packet for parents that he was able to hand out to them, to give them information about this stuff,” said Miller.”We’ve also been to the Boys and Girls club, to speak to kids about it, and there has been numerous publications by the police department and prosecutor’s office to educate the public about it.”

But, since producers of the drugs are finding ways to make new brands, and fast, police said it is hard to keep up with the trends.

“I believe it will be an ongoing issue, and I believe it’s one that will continue to be evaluated as the incidents occur.”

Several medical reports have warned the dangers of smoking these chemical drugs, and since they are fairly new, the long-term consequences are not yet known.

Elkhart Police said officers will continue to try and buy the synthetic cannabinoids, and the investigation is ongoing.

Indiana State Excise Police assisted in the investigation, so while Elkhart Police would not release where officers seized the packets from, it is likely they made the busts at gas stations or businesses in the city.

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