Fake marijuana banned by governor, I-Team discovers drug selling at local store


by Adam Walser


Posted on December 19, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 20 at 7:00 AM

(WHAS11) -- Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has stepped up the fight against synthetic drugs, sometimes called "spice."

He signed emergency regulations Tuesday banning them in any form.

“We'd been changing the laws every session to try and catch up with the chemists as they change the makeup of the drug. And now we don't have to do that,” Beshear said.

Before the governor signed the order, we went to one local smoke shop where one mother told us her teenage son bought spice.

“I caught my kids experimenting with this stuff over the Thanksgiving weekend,” the mother, who doesn’t want to be identified, told WHAS11.

She says her 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son became violently ill after smoking what they believed was synthetic marijuana they told her they bought from Smoky's Smoke Shop on Factory Lane in East Louisville.

“This is scary to me. I don't know what kind of reaction my children could have,” the mother said. “We've got restrictions on selling paint and Sudafed, all kinds of regulations that would curb this kind of abuse, but not this stuff apparently.”

House Bill 265, passed in 2010,  made selling synthetic marijuana a crime in Kentucky.

But police have repeatedly said it's often hard to enforce, because officers can't immediately determine if the substances contain banned chemicals.

The mother we talked to says she bought spice from the same store her kids did.

“There wasn't any hesitation in telling me exactly how this stuff was used, whether in a pipe or rolled in paper,” she said.

We went to see for ourselves before Beshear issued his executive order to see how easy it was.

It didn't take long to buy a package. It sold for $30 for a small package.

The store’s owner told us he had 25 gram packages that sold for $200.

"Just a couple of hits, man. Don't sit there and smoke it like regular weed,” he said. “It’s strong.”

When asked whether it was illegal, the owner said, “They keep changing the blend, you know what I'm saying. Don't go out there and get pulled over and say this is legal.  Just be careful.”

Earlier this month, Louisville Metro Police arrested Sean Branham for possession of synthetic marijuana.

According to the police report, he was found passed out behind the wheel of his running truck, telling officers the spice "messed him up".

After leaving Smoky's we identified ourselves.

“You're trying to set me up like I'm doing something wrong. It’s not wrong. Get out of here. I already called the cops,” he said.

“They have a social and moral obligation if they're going to be doing business in our community not to provide this to our children,” the mother told us.

We want to make it clear that we do not have any evidence that what we bought from Smoky's was indeed illegal under the law at the time.

We notified police about the substance we bought and they said they would look into it.

Under Beshear's new order, police can seize synthetic drugs, retailers can be fined twice the amount of profit they made from selling the products and those convicted of selling the drugs could lose their liquor licenses.