The line at The Last Place on Earth, a head shop in Duluth, Minnesota, stretched so far out the door it took a half-hour to reach the counter. The product for sale was so popular, buyers sold their own blood plasma to get some — despite side effects including hallucinations, paranoia, and outbursts of uncontrollable, inexplicable violence.
And despite all that, the product in question, synthetic “marijuana,” was — at least arguably — legal to sell.
“Arguably,” because it’s not. Synthetic cannabinoids are banned substances under federal drug-control laws, and both the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and local police have the ability to arrest anyone selling it.
“Arguably,” because despite all that, in 2018, synthetic “marijuana” is still sold openly at gas stations, convenience stores, and head shops, despite killing four people in the Chicago area since February, and killing two U.S. Marines and delivering another soldier brain damage.
As Minneapolis City Pages reported, The Last Place on Earth’s owner raked in “tens of thousands of dollars a day” off of the sale of the synthetic product — sold in shiny packages as K2, Spice, or other fancy names — before he was eventually arrested, tried, and convicted in 2014.
Yet somehow, the country’s Spice problem has only worsened since then.
On Wednesday, authorities in Chicago confirmed that a 22-year-old man died March 28 after consuming a particularly nasty batch of synthetic marijuana tainted with rat poison — the fourth death since last month from the stuff, which is “commonly sold” at convenience stores around the state, according to the Chicago Tribune.
So far this year, 155 people in Illinois have been sickened from using the drug. Last fall in Minnesota, 177 people went to hospitals after using synthetic “marijuana” during a three-week span, according to City Pages. And all this