After making several under-cover purchases and obtaining a warrant, Carbon Metro Drug Task Force, Sheriff's Department and Price City Police confiscated more than 360 grams of "Spice" - a form of synthetic marijuana - from Price's Skin Inc. during a June 29 raid.
According to information released by Price Police Capt. Kevin Drolc, the search warrant resulted from a several week investigation during which time sample products were purchased from several Skin Inc. employees. Analysis of the sample products at the Utah State Crime Lab revealed that the product contained analogs of controlled substances as defined by Utah State Law.
"As law enforcement officers, we are doing everything possible to get illegal material off of the streets," said Price Police Sgt. Bill Barnes, who participated in the investigation and seizure. "We had issued several warnings to Skin Inc. detailing our concerns about the incense product being sold within the establishment, our warnings were not heeded, so we took the next step available to us."
Barnes reported that Skin Inc.'s ownership was very cooperative during the seizure process, peacefully maintaining their innocence in the matter.
"It was their contention that this product was legal and given approval by the DEA. In my experience, the DEA does not provide their stamp of approval for anyone and our labs found the sample material to be illegal," explained Barnes.
In Utah, Spice's road to illegality was paved with local concerns over the last year, first the city of Ogden then Utah County, the city of Helper and finally the state as a whole.
However, according to Barnes, some within the business community seem undeterred by the illegality of certain products.
"In addition to synthetic marijuana, we are aware that certain 'bath salts,' which are being used in much the same way as methamphetamine," continued Barnes. "It is important for the public to know that these products are dangerous. I know that a business owner can be tempted by the amazing profit these products provide. I mean 1.5 grams of incense was selling for $35. You know, a person can say all day long that these products are being sold for legitimate purposes, but that same person has to know in their heart that their community is facing serious health risks while ingesting these chemicals."
No arrests were made at the time of the warrant execution, however the case is under review by the Carbon County District Attorney for consideration of charges against the store owner and her employees, according to the Price Police release. While this seizure was significant in nature, Agent Kevin Mele stipulated that local law enforcement will be facing an uphill battle concerning "quasi-legal" substances.
"I have no doubt that chemists will continue to try and change these substances just enough to make them legal again," he explained. "I think Utah has many of the analogs covered in the law right but as long as there is profit to be made this is a battle we will have to keep fighting."