Greensboro police campaign to stop sale of synthetic marijuana

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Greensboro police said they plan to start visiting businesses Tuesday to stop the sale of synthetic marijuana, a controlled substance under North Carolina law.

Police said they are asking business owners to voluntarily comply with the law.

They said they do not plan on making any arrests, but will start a more strict enforcement within weeks.

Officers said they will stop at businesses including convenience stores, “hookah” bars and shops that sell smoking paraphernalia.

They said if synthetic marijuana is being displayed, they will talk with the store owner, have them sign a form and remove the product.

Police said synthetic cannabis – often called “spice,” “herbal incense,” or “potpourri” – is especially popular with people under 21 because there was no age limit to buy it.

The synthetic drug mimics the effects of the drug THC, which naturally occurs in the marijuana plant.

Penalties for the sale or possession of these drugs are based partly on quantity. More than 50 dosages are considered trafficking, which can carry a mandatory sentence of 25 months.

Police said the product’s labels often make it sound harmless, but it has been linked to paranoia, panic attacks, chest pain and more.

North Carolina banned synthetic cannabis by a unanimous vote of the state senate in 2011.

Authorities said anyone who sees suspected synthetic cannabis for sale can call police or Crime Stoppers at 373-1000.