Narcotics agents in Savannah and Chatham County have begun hand-delivering letters to more than 200 gas stations, convenience stores and other businesses, warning them that some over-the-counter items have been banned under state and federal laws.
The messages explain laws banning bath salts and synthetic marijuana in products with names like “K2” and “Spice.”
The products themselves aren’t banned; specific chemicals in them are what state and federal laws prohibit.
“The reality is, some of these packs do in fact contain the substances that make it illegal and some do not,” said Agent Gene Harley with the Chatham Savannah Counter Narcotics Team. “Some companies market around that to try to fool these shop owners.”
Lawmakers banned the chemicals in the products marketed as “bath salts” or “incense” earlier this year. They outlawed synthetic marijuana products in 2010.
Harley said the products are dangerous for shop owners and users because what is listed on the label does not always accurately reflect what substances are in the products.
“Some of these things that said they do not contain [the banned chemicals], upon testing, we find that they do, and vice versa. Some that say they contain it actually don’t,” Harley said. “The bottom line is, it’s not worth the risk.”
Narcotics agents said they are hoping that by delivering the letters, the products will disappear from store shelves.
The letters warn store owners they could face up to 30 years in prison for selling controlled substances.
The push at the coast comes after a recent sting targeting the products in north Georgia.
Harley said other counties have asked about the letter in order to replicate enforcement efforts.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration Friday added three substances found in the bath salts products to the Schedule I narcotics list, the most tightly controlled group. DEA added five chemicals in the K2, Spice and other synthetic marijuana products to the controlled substances list in March.
Contributors: Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.