Local officials make first synthetic drug arrest in the state - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Local officials make first synthetic drug arrest in the state

CHICKASHA, Okla_The first man in Oklahoma to be charged with possession of synthetic marijuana is looking at spending seven years in jail. Chickasha police first arrested him in November for extortion.  But, when they were booking him at the Grady County Jail they found the fake weed, sometimes called spice, or k-2, in his shoe. Ironically, this substance was banned the same day he was caught with it. The lab-made drug is becoming a problem in the area, and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is having a hard time cracking down.

District Attorney Jason Hicks said the market for them is growing. Before 2009, synthetic drugs were only found in Europe, now they're a problem in every state in the country. To add to the problem, there is some serious money involved. It's become so widespread, it's not just limited to marijuana. Chemists are making synthetic versions of cocaine, meth and even heroin.

"If you see the packaging, these companies are using smiley faces, they're using pop rocks, they're using whatever they can to market this to a certain individual, to teenagers to kids."

Once a year, and only once a year, the Oklahoma legislature takes a look at these products and evaluates them to see if they're safe enough for store shelves but the chemists seem to always be one step ahead.

"They watch the legislature very closely as they see these chemicals placed on the controlled dangerous substances list and it's banned in the state of Oklahoma. They change the chemical composition of that substance by just one molecule so it's no longer an illegal substance and it's still legal to sell."

But when the chemical make-up changes regularly it's nearly impossible to catch someone in the act, even with a drug test.

"We've had cases that have failed those test and it's obvious to the officer that the person is under the influence of something. The officers will take them to one of the local hospitals and have blood drawn and they'll send that off to the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation for analysis and those are coming back with nothing in it."

A clean blood test means they're walking away without so much as a citation. Hicks could not stress this enough just because a certain version of this product can be sold legally, does not mean its safe.

"We've got people here in the district...kids, basically it's incapacitating, they're in nursing homes now. It's an extremely dangerous. There are instances where kids have taken it and died from it."

Hicks' task force has teamed with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics sent out a letter of warning to local shops that sold the substance. They warned them that they'd be back to make sure it wasn't on the shelves. Their warning was a success. They managed to get several shops to close their doors.

There is so much money in the synthetic drug industry that Hicks said store owners would rather shut down their own business than simply take the product off the shelves. 

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