Late in the summer of 2011 Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill that made the sale, distribution or possession of synthetic cannabinoids, among other substances, illegal.
More commonly known by its brand names of K2 or Spice, the possible sale of synthetic marijuana – also called incense – is the scope of several investigations in Lee’s Summit involving area convenience stores. According to Lee’s Summit Police Sgt. Chris Depue, in May of last year the department conducted raids at a Phillips 66 near Third Street and New Longview Road, as well as at Valero, 1601 N.E. Douglas, as part of the same investigation.
The Convenience Plus store near Third Street and Grand was recently raided Dec. 27 as part of a separate investigation into the sale of K2 or Spice.
“Citizen complaints usually account for the initial notification regarding stores where it is being sold,” Depue told the Journal via email. “From there the case is investigated to determine what is being sold at the stores. Some of the complaints have resulted in search warrants, like the New Longview, Douglas, and Third St. investigations. Others have revealed that independent of law enforcement actions, the owners had already removed the items from stock.”
In each instance, the investigations continue, Depue said, pending the return of a laboratory analysis report.
“The seized items have been at the laboratory ever since, and we have yet to receive their laboratory analysis report,” Depue said after consulting with the detective handling the cases and the sergeant of the drug unit. “Our protocol is not to consult with the prosecutor until the laboratory analysis report has been finalized and returned to (the department). Once that happens we will meet with the prosecutor for a charging decision. So as of now, (the cases are) still pending.”
In the summary of the law – signed by Nixon in August of 2011 – it states “any person who possesses any controlled substance except 35 grams or less of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid will be guilty of a class C felony. Any person who possesses not more than 35 grams of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid will be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.”
A class C felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison according to state law.
“I can tell you that, in working with the police department, there is no doubt that it’s out here,” said Laura DeCourcy, program coordinator for prevention at Lee’s Summit Cares. Lee’s Summit Cares has been at the forefront with the LSPD and other community partners in addressing drug use among residents, especially younger people. “I know that there is a lot of stuff still being prosecuted. The problem seems to be – and it’s not just here, it’s everywhere – there is no immediate test. Basically what they have to do is send it away for testing in the lab before you can really get prosecution on it.
“But, is it here? Absolutely it’s here. There’s not a lot of places that it is not. I think because of the ban in Missouri people that have it available are not making it readily available. Meaning you just can’t walk in and ask for it. If they are doing it they are going to be very discreet about it. It is wicked stuff. The problem with this stuff is they don’t know what the long-term effects of this stuff are because it affects everybody so different.”
Depue said the police department treats synthetic cannabis like it does all other drug complaints.
“We actively investigate them and present cases to prosecutors for the filing of charges,” he said. “We encourage the public to report any suspicious items they see in local stores to the police department.”