The raid Thursday afternoon at Smoke 911 on Highway 92 followed an undercover operation by the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad led by Cmdr. Phil Price.
Price said CMANS had information that Smoke 911 was continuing to distribute synthetic marijuana, despite a raid earlier this week when 2,200 packages of the substance were confiscated.
“We came the first time because of ban, and as we searched we found what we believe to be illegal synthetic items outlawed by the new law the governor signed into effect in March,” Price said. “We got info they had additional packages of the pre-banned substance, did an uncover operation, and found they were concealing materials under the counter.”
During the latest raid, two suspects were arrested outside the shop on outstanding warrants and taken into custody.
Price also said that he anticipates making arrests of those involved in the operation of the shop this time around.
Sheriff Roger Garrison, who serves as the chairman of the task force, said he is pleased the local task force is aggressively enforcing the ban and new law.
“I am proud of our narcotics squad for taking the lead in the state and taking aggressive action on getting this drug off the shelves of local shops,” Garrison said.
The latest raid came after CMANS agents and local police officers on Tuesday pulled about 9,400 packages of synthetic marijuana from the shelves of Cherokee County stores after the substance was banned by an emergency ruling by the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy.
Agents in the earlier raid recovered about 6,200 packages of synthetic marijuana at HY Novelties in Canton, about 600 from a store in Ball Ground and 400 from a store in Holly Springs, in addition to what was seized at Smoke 911.
Lt. Jay Baker with the Sheriff’s Office said following the earlier raids that the removal was a regulatory action so no arrests were made at that time.
“If the items recovered from the stores, once tested by the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) Crime Lab, turn out to be illegal under existing Georgia law, the store managers will be charged with felony possession of a Schedule 1 controlled substance,” Baker said.
The emergency measure came just one week after the GBI confirmed the drowning death of a Fayette County teen was caused by the use of synthetic marijuana. The 16-year-old’s death was the first time the drug has been officially linked to a fatality in Georgia.
At the request of Gov. Nathan Deal, the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy adopted the emergency rule classifying newly discovered compounds of synthetic marijuana as controlled substances.
The rule allows police to seize the new forms, but it does not provide for arrest. The Georgia General Assembly has twice banned forms of synthetic marijuana, but manufacturers keep changing the molecular structure to circumvent the law.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation recently identified new versions, which were addressed by the new pharmacy rule. On March 27, Deal signed Senate Bill 970 that made synthetic marijuana and other similar substances illegal to sell in Georgia.
However, manufacturers immediately began to produce products using different substances to skirt the new law.
“A new family of potentially deadly substances have been on sale legally since April 2012,” Baker said. “This emergency action by the Georgia Board of Pharmacy is a stop-gap measure that will provide some protection until the legislature returns to regular session in January of 2013,” Price said Thursday.