Police: Synthetic marijuana found in NJ shop
NORTHFIELD, N.J. - April 24, 2012 (WPVI) -- Equipped with an undercover camera, Action News went into the ACRAT (Atlantic City Records and Tapes) store in Atlantic County.
Our crews found bongs, glass pipes, and what appears to be synthetic marijuana.
We did not purchase samples because buying it is illegal in New Jersey.
But law enforcement did buy some during their own investigation, which was not connected to Action News, but occurred at the same time as ours.
"Utilizing undercover officers we were able to make several purchases of the compounds and substances," Northfield Police Chief Robert James said.
Northfield Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration raided ACRAT Tuesday afternoon.
Detectives say the shelves of ACRAT are stocked with Alien Technology, Spice, and Blue Cush, all brands of synthetic marijuana.
They estimate the store was selling roughly $1,000 of the product a day.
Detectives moved in after they say lab tests came back positive.
Two employees were taken into custody.
Montgomery County Coroner, Walter Hofman, says four people have died from synthetic marijuana in the county over the past year and a half.
He says the concentrated drug can cause rapid heart rate and hallucinations and it's far more dangerous than regular weed.
"One of the problems is we don't know how much does it take to kill you," Hofman said.
Even more troubling, synthetic marijuana is popular among today's youth.
Neighbors of ACRAT say kids go in and out of the store all day.
"In New Jersey alone last year, there were 170 cases of poisoning due to synthetic cannabis, mostly with young adults or children," James said.
Law enforcement in New Jersey say the law banning synthetic marijuana has loopholes which can make it difficult to prosecute.
Makers of the drug will often tweak the molecular makeup slightly then stock the shelves again.
An ACRAT employee seemed to confirm that fact while we were undercover.
"We sent back all our other stuff that was banned and they sent us this," the employee can be heard saying on the video.
Hofman says the makers can work rapidly.
"They can change it as fast as you can drop a pen on the ground," Hofman said.
"That to me is our main concern and why we are here today to prevent that type of substance getting in the hands of the youth," James said.
Police say they are still trying to track down the owner of ACRAT.
So far he and his employees have not been charged.
But police say possession and distribution of synthetic marijuana charges are pending and they could face 3 to 5 years behind bars and a $25,000 fine.
new jersey, marijuana, atlantic county, drugs, raid, local/state, chad pradelli
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