Five people were arrested and charged with distribution of synthetic cannabinoids. Police said the products were sold under different brand names as well as even being packaged as incense.
The two businesses were Cigarette City on Cavalier Street and Golden Express on the 100 block of South 15th avenue in Hopewell.
Also known as K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Mr. Smiley and Blaze, among other things, synthetic marijuana can have more serious consequences than regular marijuana. Spice is a blend of plant and herbal products that have been sprayed with chemicals, adding extra toxicity, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The products are marketed as being "safe" alternatives to actually using the real thing, marijuana. While it may be true that the plant and herbal materials used in spice may be innocuous, it is the chemical additives that make them especially dangerous.
Because the chemicals used in spice have such a high potential for abuse and no medical benefits, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has designated the five additives most frequently found in spice as Schedule I controlled substances, thus making it illegal to buy, sell or possess them.
Earlier this month, CNN reported that in Colorado, three deaths have officially been attributed to people using spice. This followed an investigation into an outbreak of illnesses in the Denver metro-area and Colorado Springs.
Of the approximately 75 individuals that became ill, Dr. Tista Ghosh, interim chief medical officer for the state, in a written statement said, "Several individuals were in intensive care and three deaths are being investigated as possibly associated."
The events in Colorado, while tragic, are just the tip of the iceberg. The news media is full of stories of teenagers having strokes, multiple psychotic breaks, kidney damage and even attempting suicide, all because of synthetic marijuana.
Use of synthetic cannabis is very high, especially among teenagers. According to the 2012 Monitoring the Future survey of youth drug-use trends, one in nine 12th graders in America reported using synthetic cannabinoids in the past year. This rate puts synthetic cannabinoids as the second most frequently used illegal drug among high school seniors after marijuana.