MADISON (WKOW) – The Dane County Drug Task Force says it has busted ten retailers for selling synthetic marijuana, but it is just the tip of the iceberg.
The task force, made up of members of Madison Police, UW Police and the Dane County Sheriff's Office, says it's putting retailers on notice.
With the flavors and bright packaging, it looks like candy. It's sold as incense. But it's used to get high.
"People are having heart palpitations, strong hallucinations and basically amnesia where they're not sure what's happening to them," says Carol Kashishian with UW Police.
She is describing some of the extreme effects of synthetic marijuana, commonly known as "spice" or "K2."
It's a mixture of herbs and spices sprayed with a synthetic chemical similar to THC, illegal under federal and state law.
"There is no quality control. There's no telling how much of a chemical you're getting or what chemical you're getting. It's a real unknown," says Lt. Brian Ackeret with Madison Police.
He says Dane County's Drug Task Force is working with the Drug Enforcement Administration to target a southern Wisconsin distributor, and they've already recovered $61,000 worth of illegal product from local retailers.
They say one package can sell anywhere from $13 to $45.
Retailers caught selling synthetic marijuana that WKOW spoke with say they didn't know the products were illegal.
One even provided documents that came with them--lab results supposedly proving no illegal chemicals were used. Looking at the fine print, it also says the results of test samples aren't necessarily the same as lots of batches of the same product.
Plus, Wisconsin's law goes a step further than federal law, banning seven substances, their derivatives or any chemicals with similar effects.
"It is an additional part of Wisconsin law so that, when the chemists are one step ahead, we can still hold them accountable," Ackeret says.
Punishment for a first offense can include up to a $1,000 fine and no more than six months of jail time.
Ackeret says a few retailers were caught selling synthetic marijuana twice, and they could face prosecution.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2013 WorldNow and WKOW. All Rights Reserved.
Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Program Manager Jessica Miller at 608-661-2794. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at email@example.com.