A local smoke shop was targeted as New York State Police launched a series of statewide searches to determine if so-called bath salts or synthetic marijuana are being sold illegally. Clyde Beach, the owner of the Jamaica Junction Smoke and Gift Shop in Port Jervis, said that his store was searched, but he has not broken any laws because his establishment voluntarily stopped selling synthetic marijuana when the state outlawed it back in August 2012.
He said the decision was sparked, in part, because “we saw what it was doing to some people.” He also said he was very pleased with the professional way his staff reacted to the search and the police, and that no damage occurred to his establishment.
Beach’s shop was one of eight searched by police after an investigation into the sales of the illicit substances. A New York State Police press release said, “The risks associated with the use of synthetic cannabinoids (marijuana) and related substances cannot be overstated. The negative effects include agitation, extreme nervousness, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, elevated blood pressure, seizures and hallucinations.”
The drugs are linked to various instances of bizarre behavior. In September 2012 in Hawley, PA, 20-year-old Richard Cimino Jr., who had allegedly consumed bath salts, jumped out of a second-story window in a house he had broken into. He then attacked a woman and according to a police press release “gnawed on her head while screaming like an animal.”
The New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, with the assistance of various police departments around the state, conducted multiple searches and recovered more than 11,000 packages believed to contain synthetic cannabinoids, $16,000 in cash, 200 packages of suspected bath salts, and other items and records relating to the sale of the banned substances. The seized drugs are valued at over $150,000.
City of Port Jervis Police Chief William J. Worden said, “Synthetic marijuana is popular among teens and has been known to cause severe medical-related side effects and even death. Clearly, this toxic drug is dangerous and putting our young adults at risk. Coordinated enforcement efforts and teamwork from all levels of New York State law enforcement is essential to effectively battle the negative effects that synthetic marijuana and other illicit substances contribute to the quality of life and well being of our communities.”
Officials say they will test the chemical content of the substances they collected in the raids to find out if the law is being violated and, in some cases, the testing already confirms that it was. But Beach said in the case of the substances they took from his place, they will find no violations because the ingredients are just “herbs.”