A new Pennsylvania law allows police to take action on all cases regarding synthetic drugs no matter what is in the substance.
And not even a month after it was enacted, this law is already having a significant impact.
It’s because of this law that went into effect on July 3rd that police busted clerks and owners of 4 convenience stores in Harrisburg for selling synthetic marijuana.
Police are no longer playing catch up when it comes to dealing with synthetic drugs.
“It’s one that’s broad enough that can capture future changes,” says Dauphin County First Assistant District Attorney, Fran Chardo.
Corporal Gabriel Olivera was unable to show his face on camera due to the nature of his job but says this new synthetic drug law is considered a “blanket law” which nixes the problem police have dealt with for years.
“They change the chemical compound so frequently that the laws never keep up with it and that was the biggest problem with the law,” says Cpl. Gabriel Olivera of Harrisburg’s Criminal Investigations Division.
In the past — just changing one ingredient in the drug would be enough to get around the law.
But the drug would still have the same effect on the person.
“Think about it if you had gasoline and you change it slightly by one molecule…it’s not gasoline anymore but you can still operate your car,” says Chardo.
And that’s the most dangerous aspect of it all.
Just one dose can literally make you psychotic.
“We’ve seen people become very aggressive, very agitated with this … these items since they’re chemically made interact very differently with each individual person,” says Olivera.
Police say this new law was the reason law enforcement made the largest synthetic marijuana drug bust in Harrisburg’s history.
An investigation revealed 4 stores were averaging sales of 200 to 300 packets of synthetic marijuana each week raking in more than $55,000 dollars.
“This gives us a lot more teeth to go after them because before we would have to wait to get lab reports to determine if it was an illegal substance,” says Olivera.
Police say the people who were arrested in this case face the same degree of charges as someone faces who is delivering or selling cocaine.
It’s a felony charge and police want people to be aware that all synthetic drugs are now illegal no matter what is in them.