NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) — It’s called marijuana on steroids; so powerful that it killed a local boy, and has sent a lot of other kids to the emergency room.
It’s being sold illegally in convenience stores and tobacco shops throughout the region.
KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan was there when state police in New Kensington went undercover to catch the sellers.
Synthetic marijuana, herbs treated with chemicals. In 2011 alone, 11,000 users nationwide ended up in the emergency room with paranoia, heart palpitations and suicidal thoughts.
“It gives you a feeling of impending doom,” said a young man now being treated at Gateway Rehab. “You felt like you were going to die.”
Synthetic pot is an illegal and controlled substance, but police say large qualities are being sold in little tobacco shops and convenience stores all over our area.
While KDKA watched, state police sent a confidential informant into the Hilltop Mart in New Kensington where they say he has purchased synthetic pot in the past. Within minutes he comes back out.
It’s sold as potpourri under various names like K2 and Spice. Back at the police station, detectives reveal the buy — a shiny little package embossed with one of the seven dwarfs.
At $30 for five grams, you can see just how lucrative selling synthetic pot can be.
In recent weeks, state police say they’ve confiscated more than a hundred pounds from various stores. They say it’s being sold to kids as young as 13 and 14.
“It’s sad. It really is,” said Trooper Jeff Broutigan. “To see these young kids, and they come from all aspects of life – the rich, the poor, the middle class – these kids start partying with this stuff and they end up in Children’s Hospital.”
A few days later, they arrest and charge the store operator, Syed Madani.
To protect kids, the chief has ordered the store closed down.
“A lot of neighborhood kids used to come in here,” said Chief Tom Klawinski, of the New Kensington Police Department. “So we took their license, and now they’re closed.”
That was just one store, but police believe there are dozens more like it that continue to sell synthetic marijuana and they intend to shut them down as well.