|Updated: 2/06/2012 9:35 pm
||Published: 2/06/2012 5:41 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - It's the new K2, synthetic marijuana manufacturers say they've changed the molecular structure of to make legal, but according to the State Crime Lab, it’s still illegal.
Law enforcement all over Arkansas is having a tough time cracking down on its distribution because it's difficult to identify. That puts tobacco stores, customers, and police in a difficult spot.
The Arkansas Attorney General classifies all synthetic drugs as controlled substances. New K2, the synthetic marijuana now being sold as herbal incense or potpourri, smoked to get high puts law enforcement in a bind. Lt. Carl Minden with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office says it's just one more way to break the law.
The packaging of the products is misleading, so stores don't know exactly what they're selling until they're busted. "Our guys have to go in to the store, make the purchase, send it to the State Crime Lab and get it verified that the substance is illegal. It's a lot of paperwork, a lot of time that elapses, and they're selling more while we're doing it."
That's why John Zomaya at the Tobacco Superstore in North Little Rock has to be really careful what he stocks on the shelves. "There's no telling what chemicals are in those things, so we don't carry it here at this store, because some people say it's illegal and we'll get in trouble."
The Arkansas State Crime lab says any substance with a similar chemical structure as K2 is considered illegal even if the label doesn't indicate certain compounds are present. Zomaya says you can't tell what's in it by just looking at it. "It looks like oregano or parsley or whatever type of spice crushed up."
Zomaya says customers come into the Tobacco Superstore asking for it all the time, but the only product he sells is incense for aroma purposes only. "I'm not going to take any chances and go to jail for it, so if it comes back here, I'm not going to sell it."
Law enforcement say it's hard for businesses trying to make a profit, but stores need to do the right thing. In the meantime, police will do their best to try to get this new K2 off the streets.