The challenges of synthetic marijuana

Fed busts and bans, some question if its enough

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Monday afternoon the Contact 5 Investigators were undercover, inside a Martin County beverage shop.  We were hunting for synthetic marijuana.

"He would do anything to get his hands on it," explained a local mother who asked us not to reveal her identity to protect her son.

Her interview with the Contact 5 Investigators is the first time she's talking publicly about fake pot.

"It's crushed our entire family, it has just ripped us apart."

She says the chemically doused herbs sold in shiny packets and labeled with names like "Mad Hatter" and "Kriptonyt," have turned her 19 year old son from a college bound Eagle scout to helpless and homeless.

"He was addicted to this substance and he had to have more and more and more."

Easy to access and cheap to buy, synthetic marijuana has become a national threat, now getting national attention.

Chopper 5 captured a bust at a storage unit in suburban west palm beach Wednesday, the raid one of about 100 nationwide.

"This is one of, if not the largest distributor in the United States," explained Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed into law a new measure that would ban the sale and production of many of the chemicals found in synthetic marijuana.

"The drug manufacturers of products, like synthetic drugs, they're a step ahead of law enforcement," said Philip Bulone, a former New York narcotics cop and drug abuse counselor. 

Bulone questions if laws are enough to stop the synthetic spread.

"You can rest assured that someone is in a laboratory creating a new compound. "

He believes the key to busting the problem is closing down the businesses where it's sold.

"When you hurt your people in the pocketbook, people tend to back off."

Until its gone, synthetic marijuana will be available.  We purchased 3 grams of "Kryptonyt" for $10 from the shop in Martin County.  We received no receipt, were asked no questions.  It's that easy access parents, like the mother who has asked to remain anonymous, are so concerned will continue.

"It's a slow death.  I see my son killing himself."

According to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue during the month of June, crews responded to a dozen incidents involving synthetic marijuana. It was the highest volume of calls over synthetic marijuana in the agency's history.

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