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Lottery suspending sales at stores with synthetic drug arrests

The state of Pennsylvania made the sale of synthetic marijuana illegal starting last August. Another state institution is also punishing local businesses suspected of selling the product: the Pennsylvania Lottery has made a policy of suspended sales of its tickets at stores where a drug arrest has taken place, but before any convictions. A spokeswoman for the lottery says it has revoked "several dozen" licenses to sell tickets just this year based on this policy.

In a recent example, the Pennsylvania suspended the license of a convenience store in Lancaster for 15 days on June 7, one day after an employee of the store was arrested on suspicion of selling synthetic marijuana. Authorities claim the suspect sold the synthetic drug to an undercover police officer on Feb. 29, March 1 and March 7. The man has a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 25.

As of mid-June, the store had a small sign hanging on the ticket machine saying the store was not selling tickets "due to problems." The suspension almost certainly had a significant economic effect on the store.

The lottery says it has the power to suspend ticket sales under a sort of morals clause. "The lottery does have discretionary authority under law to suspend or revoke a lottery license whenever the experience, character and general fitness of the agent is inconsistent with public interest," the spokeswoman said. She added that, though the lottery often moves quickly to issue a suspension, the agency gives the stores an "opportunity to justify reinstatement of the license" to sell tickets before issuing a permanent revocation.

Source: Lancaster Online, "Drug charges halt lottery sales at Lancaster city news stand," Dan Nephin, June 14, 2012

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