A Hall County retailer was arrested and charged with selling synthetic marijuana this week, authorities said Saturday.
Vijaykumar Patel, 38, of Flowery Branch is accused of possession with intent to distribute the illegal substance at the Discount Tobacco Depot on Shallowford Road in Gainesville. Hall County authorities said they found 36 packages of synthetic marijuana labled as “Scooby Snax.” Patel allegedly was charging $20 to $40 dollars for the packages.
Synthetic marijuana is made up of plant material and sprayed with chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Last year, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law outlawing the sale of synthetic marijuana, which was also being sold online and in stores under such brands as “Spice,” “K2,” “Mr. Smiley,” “Red X Dawn,” and “Blaze.” For a while manufacturers got around the law by altering the drug’s molecular structure, but the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy issued an emergency ruling that also made new blends illegal.
The ruling followed confirmation that a Fayette County teen died from drowning caused by the use of synthetic marijuana. It was the first time the drug had been officially linked to a death in Georgia.
The drowning of Chase Burnett, 16, inspired the legislation that outlawed the sale of the popular substance.
According to figures released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 11,500 people were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and other symptoms related to using fake marijuana, three-quarters of them aged 12 to 29, and nearly 80 percent of them male.
Authorities said Patel was arrested Thursday after an investigation by the Hall County Multi Agency Narcotics Squad and Gainesville Police Department. In addition to the packets of synthetic marijuana, they said they also found smoking devices, packaging materials, digital and mechanical scales, false bottom cans and cleansing or detox agents.