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Law Enforcement Struggles to Fight ‘Legal’ Substance Abuse

It’s a dangerous trend among young people–the abuse of legal substances to get high.Local law enforcement officers say there is little they can do to stop it.KEY News received a tip: a smoke shop on Milpas Street is selling so-called bath salts, the street name for synthetic legal drugs. So–we sent in a decoy, to find out.We sent our KEY News assignment editor, Claire Scholl, into MJ Stereo and Smoke Shop.Inside, she asked the sales person for so-called bath salts. She was told the store no longer sells them, but she was offered an alternative from inside a glass case. “He says these will give you a heavy chill,” says Scholl.Moments later, she walked out with a small brightly colored package with the catchy name, “New King Kong.”It’s sold as incense. There’s a warning right on the package, “not for human consumption.””Common sense indicates it is being marketed as something else, possibly an alternative to marijuana,” Says Sgt. Riley Harwood.We quickly discovered it’s easy to get information about the drug and how to abuse it.This growing trend presents a big problem for law enforcement.”It’s become increasingly difficult for regulatory authorities to keep up with the pace,” says Harwood.There are currently some federal regulations in place, but no state or local laws prohibiting the sale of these substances.”It’s particularly a problem with young people who might not be aware of the the health hazards.”We confronted the store owner, who sold our decoy the substance and told her she could smoke it to get high.He says he didn’t do anything wrong.”If it’s for sale, it’s for sale. If it’s illegal, it would be illegal.”Sgt. Harwood argues, “just because something is not illegal, doesn’t mean using it is safe appropriate, or the right thing to do.”Local law enforcement officers tell us they, along with legislators, are always working to update laws, to make the sale of certain substances illegal.

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