APD Struggles to Keep Up With Constant Changes in Designer Drug

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by Victoria Taylor

ANCHORAGE-Marketed as potpourri or incense, synthetic marijuana's popularity is rising as quickly as the chemicals are changing in the drug, " I couldn't even speak to the hundreds and hundreds of chemical variations of it, and it's all synthetic chemicals that are bad for your system that cause you to do just out of your mind behavior," said Sgt. Shaun Henry with the Anchorage Police Department.

Synthetic marijuana is illegal in Alaska, "it's a controlled substance and if you were caught possessing it, you could be prosecuted criminally depending on the amount you possessed," said Deputy District Attorney, Clint Campion.

However, legalities behind synthetic marijuana are not preventing individuals from buying the drug. Commonly sold in smoke shops, one anchorage shop owner admitted they had ordered a "large shipment" of the drug to arrive within the next week.

The challenge for local law enforcement is in keeping up with constant chemical changes of "spice," "what was not illegal or prohibited two years ago may now be prohibited because the laws changed or new chemical compounds are being produced and manufactured that are not yet controlled by the schedule of controlled substances," said Campion.

While this drug may be difficult to legally target, local law enforcement and members of the state are actively looking to get the drug out of communities across the state.