Synthetic marijuana causing concerns

In an effort to inform the public of a growing problem locally, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department held a community meeting this past Thursday at the Rocky Mount Library. The subject of the meeting was the increased presence of synthetic marijuana in the county and neighboring communities.

Several concerned parents and local residents packed into the library’s meeting room to discuss the growing problem with Lt. Todd Maxey. He gave a firsthand account of what he has seen as the department works to fight the problem. Maxey also explained the dangers of the drug and how users can often simply go to the neighborhood convenience store to buy the product.

Unlike other harmful drugs, synthetic marijuana is often sold over the counter at local retail stores and tobacco shops. According to Maxey, the drug is sold as a type of “herbal incense” and packaging states that the product is not for human consumption. Because of this, the Food and Drug Administration is unable to regulate the product.

In recent years Virginia has passed laws to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana. Recent laws have banned the sale of many of the ingredients that are found in synthetic marijuana, but that has done little to stop the sale. Synthetic marijuana makers work around the laws by slightly changing the chemical composition to create variations of the banned ingredients. The slight variations make them different enough to bypass current laws while still providing the same “high” to the users.

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