Mississippi authorities recently arrested a number of smoke shop employees for selling illegal vape products, Clarion Ledger reports. Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN) Director, John Dowdy, confirmed seizure of over 24,000 units of products commonly referred to as “spice.” Unlike the crumbling plant matter in airtight pouches, however, MBN reported confiscating liquid spice in vials. Teens are being targeted to buy the product for their vapes.
Seven employees were arrested during eight voluntary or warranted searches by the MBN. Director Dowdy reportedly told the Ledger, “the targeted audience for these illegal drugs is high school-aged kids.”
Spice, the nickname given to a variety of synthetic cannabinoids, is a Schedule I substance. Under 2012’s Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, synthetic cannabinoids are banned in the US, after Iowa teen David Rozga shot and killed himself after smoking Spice with friends. Until legislation passed, synthetic cannabinoids enjoyed a relatively popular stint in smoke shops across the US.
That was before the massive rise in vaping.
Teen smoking rates have significantly declined over the last decade. Younger people no longer find any appeal in the massive health pit that is the cigarette. The new vice overtaking younger demographics is vaping. Vape products extend well beyond the smoking cessation tool ruling the market (the Juul. Read our guide and review here). Juul’s former parent company, Pax Labs, manufactures a full line of cannabis vape products. Vaping cannabis, too, is on the rise, as legislation and stigma around the country change to match an aging millenial generation and increased scientific evidence of the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant.
Cannabis laws still vary by state, though. And, federally, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance. The same classification as the synthetic substances found in the Mississippi sting. While no major medical issue or death has resulted from cannabis use, the same cannot be said of the synthetic compounds. “The synthetic compounds we’re seeing like Spice, you’ll recall a number of years ago resulted in a substantial number of people who required medical attention,” Dowdy told the press.
Most of the confiscated spice came from overseas, authorities claimed, with no regulation or control over their manufacture. “From vial to vial there’s no way to know how much of these substances are being exposed to these children,” Dowdy told reporters. “With no control over the concentrations they’re getting, [death is] certainly a potential possibility.”
The MBN warned that parents should be aware of the potential dangers of synthetic cannabinoid oils sold to their children.