CBS 3 was the first to report Westfield police confiscating synthetic marijuana from store shelves. Now that teens can't buy it in Westfield, they've been going to nearby towns, like Northampton. But now, police there are trying to stop sales.
Natalie Tolomeo exclusively went with Northampton detectives Tuesday, as they passed out a warning letter. It's the first time police are taking action against stores selling fake pot.
Detective Lt. Ken Watson and Detective Sgt. Anne McMahon stopped in almost 40 Northampton shops looking for synthetic marijuana. On the street it's called K2, Spice, Posh, Blaze, or K3. Right now it's legal in Massachusetts but officials are trying to stop its sale before it's too late for users.
"It's obviously a public safety issue for us," says Lt. Watson.
Lt. Watson has been in contact with Westfield police after cops there raided convenience stores in January, confiscating more than 1,000 units of fake pot. Teens there were hospitalized after smoking K-3, but officials tell CBS 3 they're still using and buying from surrounding stores, like in Northampton.
"There's no doubt that there are probably local kids that are doing this locally too," Lt. Watson says. "We're going to try and get this early on."
Detectives passed out letters from the police department and Northampton's Board of Health informing stores about the harmful effects, giving them a chance to voluntarily remove fake pot. It's a warning before police take the next steps to seize the synthetic weed.
"No, I didn't see it before," says Roshni Patel of Mock's Convenience Store.
Patel didn't have the synthetic marijuana behind the counter, but she did tell CBS 3 she's glad police are on the look out.
"Northampton police are so good. I'm so glad they're taking care of us," Patel said.
But for the stores that do stock the synthetic smoke, police tell CBS 3 they'll follow up to see if the store has ditched the dangerous drugs.
"We'll give it a few weeks and do some follow up to see if they are still selling it and then we'll take enforcement actions at that time to see what actions we'll take," Lt. Watson says.
Now, even though it is legal, police in Westfield were able to criminally charge the shop owners selling it because there is a state law that prohibits anyone from selling any substance people inhale that will alter one's state of mind.
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