In March, Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation outlawing synthetic marijuana. Since that time, criminals have changed their product and investigators are fighting to keep up.
On June 14, Fayette County sheriff's deputies seized 160 pounds of synthetic marijuana. Acting on a tip, the fake pot was found at a location investigators are keeping a secret. The only problem is no one was arrested for having the substance.
"The thing in this case, is it was a regulatory action," said Investigator Brent Rowan with the Fayette County Sheriff's Office. "It was not a criminal action, and it's because those base ingredients had changed. In other words, they were able to try and distribute this stuff as a legal form of synthetic marijuana."
The only reason Rowan said they were able to take the 160 pounds of synthetic pot off the streets was because of an emergency ruling passed down on June 11. The Georgia State Board of Pharmacy and the Georgia Drugs and Narcotic Agency gave the authority to all Georgia Post Certified Peace Officers to seize the substance in a regulatory manner.
"That allows us to have the synthetic marijuana tested by the GBI so we can add the new compounds, not banned, to the legislation," Rowan said.
The 160 pounds confiscated in Fayette County is believed to be a new form of the substance.
"I believe they were going to re-package it and try and sell it as a new form of synthetic marijuana," Rowan said. "The names change, the ingredients change, but the end result is they try to sell it. But it is still a form of an illegal substance."
The law was named in memory of a 16-year-old high school student who smoked the synthetic marijuana on March 4 and was found dead in a hot tub.
"Anytime we take this substance off the street it is going to be a good day," Rowan said. "It is very unfortunate what happened to Chase Burnett. That's why we take it very serious and we are going to continue to battle as much as we have to."
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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