Peace of Mind, a new Central Avenue smoke shop, welcomes the announcement by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office that it will enforce a ban on synthetic marijuana, sold under brand names that include K2, Spice and Incense.
Staff at Peace of Mind said that the shop at 1428 Central Ave. never has sold synthetic marijuana, known to lead to psychotic behavior in some users. Workers there say the ban is long overdue. Such products give businesses like Peace of Mind a bad name, they said.
Not all Pinellas County businesses share that view. Deputies from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office expected to visit 300 retailers to inform them of the new Florida ban and warn them to get the products off their shelves or face stiff penalties.
Store owners received a signed letter from Sheriff Bob Gualtieri on Monday. The message included information about the ban on selling synthetic marijuana, and about the risk of a third degree felony charge for stores that refuse to abide by the new law.
Put into effect on Monday, July 1, the law bans the sale and possession of chemicals found in Spice, K2 and Incense.
The fake marijuana has a following in southwest Florida, with staff at another local smoke shop saying that some customers buy the marijuana-like substance on a daily basis.
Convenience stores and tobacco shops in the area that had been linked to selling the synthetic drug were given a chance to remove the product from their shelves on Monday before facing charges and prosecution.
Unlike marijuana, K2 is not grown naturally but produced and bagged by companies across the country. Harmful chemicals are the cause for concern among lawmakers and citizens, alike.
According to Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News:
“I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but we are in the middle of a drug war. This drug war of the 21st century is not the same that parents and educators faced growing up in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
By manipulating molecular biochemistry, artificial chemicals are being put together in incredibly dangerous ways.
As a result, these drugs do not follow the natural course or have the same effects as the narcotics everybody is familiar with – and in some cases, can create damage for which there is no cure.”
Although law enforcement is doing all they can to enforce the ban, Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News dished out further advice:
“Currently, the only solution is to educate yourselves, monitor which websites your kids visit, and constantly – and I mean constantly – bring up this discussion in the household.”