Spice bust in Loveland puts focus on dangers of "synthetic marijuana"

Last September, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment issued an alert suggesting that spice, inaccurately but popularly known as synthetic marijuana, could well be more dangerous to kids than the real thing. Yet despite the January 1 start of recreational pot sales in Colorado, spice continues to be available -- although no longer at the Down Low Glass Detox in Loveland, where three people were busted and more than 700 grams of the stuff was seized, including spice packaged under the product name Scooby Snax. Photos and details below. On April 10, according to the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force, officers served a search warrant at Down Low, located at 109 East 37th Street, unit A, in Loveland.

The focus of the warrant was what the task force refers to as "the illegal sale of synthetic cannabinoids commonly known as 'Spice.' Spice is a mixture of herbs that is sprayed with synthetic chemical compounds to produce a psychoactive product similar to marijuana."

Plenty of folks may take issue with that description. Note that the CDPHE lists the effects of spice on a number of young patients as "disorientation, delirium, confusion, anxiety, lethargy, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and seizures," only the mildest of which might apply to pot.

The product's packaging is frequently marked "not for human consumption" and identified as "potpourri," but that doesn't stop people (mostly teen and pre-teen males) from smoking it.

The task force seized 707 grams of spice said to be for sale at Down Low, including material packaged as Scooby Snax....

...and Mr. Happy: The spice reportedly has a "street value" of $5,400.

Anthony Cortese, Bruce Lunder and Devin Pratt -- the shop's owner, manager and an employee, respectively -- have been arrested in the case. Cortese is suspected of unlawful possession of synthetic cannabinoids with intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute, while Lunder and Pratt booked on the former charge only.

The legalization of recreational pot sales has likely cut back on the task force's work load. But members have clearly found a way to keep busy, and if they're going to shift their attention to spice, few users of genuine marijuana are apt to complain.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa September 2013: "Synthetic marijuana: Worse for kids than the real thing?"

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