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Unified Police crack down on "Spice"

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - It may not be illegal to buy or sell, but a new substance known as "spice" is known to cause a marijuana like-high, with some highly negative side-effects. ABC 4 took a closer look at how local police are trying to crack down on "spice."
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - It may not be illegal to buy or sell, but a new substance known as "spice" is known to cause a marijuana like-high, with some highly negative side-effects. ABC 4 took a closer look at how local police are trying to crack down on "spice."

It's most commonly known as "spice," but it goes by various names on the street. It's an herb mixture that's been popular in europe and other countries for years.

"The only way to ingest spice, is to smoke it," said Sergeant Scott VanWagoner of the Unified Police Drug Court Unit. "Certainly you're going to see at some of the retail outlets today, the containers are stamped, 'Not for human consumption.'"

Unified police say it's become a growing trend in Utah, as a legal alternative to marijuana.

"You can see the similarities to marijuana is significant," explained Sergeant Scott VanWagoner as he debriefed his unit. Tuesday, that Drug Court Unit went out to smoke shops that sell spice to try to convince them to stop selling it.

ABC 4 rode along with the officers.

"One of the clients, I collected 5 jars of it from him," said Detective Dave Davis. "He told me himself he used to work at one of the smoke shops, he was familiar with it, and knew that he could do that to satisfy his marijuana addiction."

Drug Court officials work with substance abuse patients, helping them get clean. They say spice has become a growing problem among their clients, especially since it's not easily detected in standard drug tests.

"What we're doing today is not an interdiction operation, it's an education operation," said VanWagoner.

Since the substance is legal to buy, all the group can do is educate distributors.

On one of the store visits Wednesday, Detective Davis spoke to a store manager over the phone. "That's what we're doing, is giving out information about that, that it's against the law to be using that kind of a substance," explained Davis.

Police say it may be legal to buy, but it's not legal to consume. Unified police say they expect distributors to cooperate with the campaign, but if not, they may turn to enforcing the "Psychotoxic Chemical Law" (76-10-107) already in the books.
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