Synthetic drug sales and use were the topic of the June meeting of the Barry-Lawrence Chapter of Crime Stoppers.
Law enforcement officials in Barry and Lawrence County are fighting the synthetic drugs that are being sold at various convenience stores in the bi-county area.
"Anyone can get a huge bag of potpourri for $5," said Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay. "It's crazy. [Synthetic drugs] are being sold as potpourri at a rate of about $35 for a few ounces and clearly labeled 'not for human consumption.' If we confiscate it, we have to send it to the lab and have it analyzed. In the meantime they just change the formula a bit and it's back out there on the shelves.
"We have to get better legislation, a blanket covering all types of synthetic drugs," DeLay continued. "There are too many loopholes in the current legislation."
DeLay said stores are removing the product from plain sight, but people go in and ask for it.
"The clerk will pull open a drawer, take it out and make the transaction right there," DeLay said. "They're dealing drugs in public. It's aggravating."
The lure for storeowners is the huge profit that is made on the one item alone.
"I know one business owner that more than doubled his annual income based on sales of that one item," DeLay said. "That's over the amount for all other items in his store."
For users, the synthetic drugs have a different appeal -- the high. But there is a downside to using the synthetic drugs.
Synthetic cannabis can precipitate psychosis and in some cases it is prolonged. Studies indicate that synthetic cannabinoid intoxication is associated with acute psychosis, worsening of previously stable psychotic disorders, and also may have the ability to trigger chronic psychotic disorders.
Adverse health effects associated with use of synthetic drugs include seizures, hallucinations, paranoid behavior, agitation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, racing heartbeat, and elevated blood pressure.
These synthetic drugs are not subject to quality control oversight.
"We have to go through such rigmarole to build a case," DeLay said. "That includes having the product tested. Our labs are getting so backed up with this type of thing it takes quite awhile to get the results."
Bath salts are a synthetic powder that is sold legally online and in paraphernalia stores under a variety of names. Ingesting or snorting "bath salts" containing synthetic stimulants can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions.
"This is basically meth on steroids," DeLay said. "I've talked to meth users who have tried these drugs and have said they're bad. They prefer using meth to this stuff."
The use of bath salts or synthetic marijuana is illegal in Missouri.
Other discussion centered around the prevalence of meth in the area and the difficulty in catching those using the "shake and bake" method.
In Lawrence County, DeLay said thefts had been a problematic issue for officers in recent weeks. Thieves don't seem to be targeting any particular item.
|Lowe said there had been a lot of recent drug activity in Purdy in the past few weeks, with officers making periodic sweeps of the apartment complex parking lots to ensure trespassers and suspected drug dealers were not on site.|
Purdy Police Chief Jackie Lowe also reported three burglaries in one night, two of which may be related.
The first was at Country Corner convenience store where an individual broke in and made off with an undetermined amount of cash and lottery tickets. The other two were back to back residences on Third and Fourth streets. Losses reported from those two incidents included guns, electronics and DVDs.
The Barry-Lawrence Chapter of Crime Stoppers offers rewards of up to $1,000 for tips that lead to the arrest of those wanted for felony crimes. Tips may be submitted by calling 354-TIPS (8477) or toll-free at 1-888-635-TIPS (8477). Tipsters may remain anonymous.
Tips may also be submitted through the Barry-Lawrence Crime Stoppers website at www.blcrimestoppers.com. Web-based tips are ineligible for a reward.