It’s a novelty product advertised as incense, but law enforcement agencies have learned a lot of young people are smoking it to get high. Now, some smoke shops are paying the price. Thousands of dollars worth of novelty incense were seized by Roosevelt County Sheriff’s investigators on Monday from two Portales smoke shops. “We were contacted by several parents in the area, also some teachers and coaches from the area schools,” Roosevelt Count Chief Deputy Sheriff Malin Parker said. All claimed kids were buying these products and smoking them to get high.
The items, with names like AK-47, root beer, and cotton candy, were popular items at the smoke shops, but they aren’t advertised for consumption.
“It’s a lot like marijuana, or some other hallucinogen drug,” Parker said.
Knowing it was being smoked was enough for the sheriff’s office to conduct a search and seizure.
“We probably talked to 60 people approximately, and out of those 60 people every one of them said that they smoke this stuff for the effect,” Parker said. An undercover officer went into two shops and made it clear in both instances he had smoked the product before, he added.
“They did throw out disclaimers that this stuff is not to be smoked,” Parker said, adding the clerks did suggest the products.
The owner of Smokin’ Dreams in Portales said they won’t sell smoking paraphernalia along with the incense in the same transaction. He said they’ve turned away customers who’ve expressed interest in smoking them.
“It’s not for human consumption; it can hurt you. We don’t want people using it,” said Richard O’Hare, clerk at Smoking Dreams, one of the shops investigators hit Monday. “But once it’s left here, it’s beyond my control.”
The owner of one of the stores told News 13 the products seized made up more than 80 percent of their sales. He insists all sales were legal.
“It’s unfortunate, but people will misuse whatever they can, they always have, and when you give them access to something like that someone is going to misuse it,” O’Hare said.
Similar products were seized from another Portales smoke shop in September. Those tested positive for synthetic substances which carry the same penalties as marijuana.
The owners of that shop were charged with possession with intent to distribute synthetic substances.
The items seized Monday will be sent to the state crime lab to see if they contain any illegal substances.