Virginia Attorney General wants synthetic marijuana off store shelves

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Source - NBC 12

NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is urging oil companies to eliminate synthetic drugs like "Spice" from gas stations and convenience stores.

A Colonial Heights mother is speaking out about the dangerous impact "Spice" had on her teen son.

"What it did to my son was horrible," said April Shifflett.

Shifflet appeared on NBC12 back in 2012 with her son, Brandon. She says he continues battling an addiction to a drug that was too easy to access.

"You don't have to go out in the street and buy it from a drug dealer," said Shifflett who fears teens are easily misled. "The fact that it is in a convenience store. It's okay. It must be okay."

Mom says the drug is far from okay. It is smoked to get high, but some users have experienced vomiting, seizures, anxiety, and hallucinations.

"It was like Russian Roulette," said April. "Once it took over he has been chasing that high ever since."

The drug is advertised as incense or potpourri. It looks like pot, and manufactures spray the herbs with compounds that mimic the active ingredient in marijuana.

In a letter signed by 43 state and territorial attorneys general, Attorney General Mark Herring expressed concern over the problem of gas stations and convenience stores operating under brand names of reputable oil companies and selling illegal and "extremely dangerous" synthetic drugs.

The attorneys general's request the following actions be considered by these oil companies to address this growing problem:

• Prohibit franchisees from selling any synthetic drugs;

• Ensure this prohibition is understood by store franchisees and their employees by communicating directly with each of them;

• Establish a point of contact in corporate offices for franchisees, should they have any questions about synthetic drugs;

• Revoke franchisee/franchisor relationship with any gas station or convenience store that sells any kind of synthetic drugs; and

• Report to local law enforcement authorities if any franchisee is selling synthetic drugs.

Synthetic marijuana became illegal in Virginia in 2011, but the challenge persists.

"It's gotten the attention of attorneys general all across the country," said Mark Herring. "One of the difficulties we've had from a law enforcement standpoint is these manufactures will change the chemicals slightly to try to evade our drug laws. It's a bit like playing wack-a-mole. When we think we've got one nailed down a different chemical comes up."

April is just hoping this action and her son's story will save lives

"He has hope," said April. "And I have hope that he will come out of this."

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