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Employee, two co-owners charged with synthetic marijuana sales

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office recently mailed updated information to convenience stores throughout the area related to bans on synthetic drugs. At least one store blatantly ignored the letter and the new laws and was fined and warned. One of the co-owners and a store worker were arrested early in March for drug offenses. However, the store continued to sell the illegal substance, a possible felony.

A register worker offered synthetic marijuana to an undercover officer who stopped by the store two days later. Later tests revealed cannabinoids, an illegal substance, in the product. The officer reported seeing a sign that carried an anti-drug message.

After the second incident, police returned and arrested the other owner of the store on March 12. They also assessed fines, which totaled $72,500, for every baggie found containing the substance. The co-owner admitted that they sold the product for money.

The new county ordinance, passed in November 2012, places financial sanctions on every packet of the product sold, to the tune of $500 apiece. Officials look at the type of packets in addition to their contents. The three arrests are some of the first since the new law was enacted.

Spice, sometimes called synthetic marijuana, can be marketed as plant food or incense. Teens sometimes use the substance as a drug; however, it can cause serious violence, extreme mental issues and dangerous overdoses.

The suspects in this incident face steep financial sanctions based on the new ordinances. A criminal defense attorney might be able to argue that they did not understand the updated legislation and request leniency from the prosecution.

Source: Tampa Bay, "Pasco deputies arrest store co-owners, clerk on Spice charges," Alex Orlando, March 13, 2013

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