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If synthetic drugs are the latest battle in the war on drugs, the front can be found at the neighborhood convenience store. There, merchants stock a product deceptively marketed as something else.
The problem with synthetic drugs is that as quickly as lawmakers vote to ban one particular substance, “chemists” concoct a slightly different brew.
Then packets of stuff labeled as bath salts, plant food or some other innocent-sounding concoction end up on store shelves. This isn’t the Epsom salts of Grandma’s day or the fertilizer your philodendron soaks up. And because it’s sold in stores, naive kids mistakenly think, “If it’s legal, it mustn’t be bad.”
Officials from various government agencies last week held a pair of seminars to help explain to the community just how pervasive and dangerous these drugs are becoming in the Roanoke Valley.
Earlier this month, tweaks to state law banning some more of these substances allowed local law enforcement to go shopping. They collected more than $105,000 worth of the drugs from local stores. Vendors voluntarily turned over the product.
Unfortunately, somewhere, a new product, a type that will escape the letter of the law, will be marketed, and it will turn up in the stores until lawmakers again convene and tweak the prohibition. And on it goes.
There is one good way to stop this cycle: Vendors could stop turning over shelf space to this junk. Customers, too, should familiarize themselves with the look of these packets. If you spot them in a store you frequent, suggest to the shopkeeper that you aren’t returning until they’re gone.