The Pennsylvania State Police conducted an aggressive operation against nearly a dozen small stores in the Pittsburgh area on July 25 in a search for synthetic marijuana. Authorities claim that the raided businesses were selling the synthetic drugs, which the state Legislature made a controlled substance in August 2011. They refused to disclose the location of the suspected stores or who has been arrested and charged as a result of the raids, but officers with the State Police were observed carrying out numerous items from the stores and expected to fill up a moving truck by the end of the raids.
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.
The wife of the coach for the Pittsburgh Power arena football team was released from jail recently after prosecutors dropped drug charges against her. The woman had a total of 25 drug charges dismissed.
K2 and other synthetic marijuana products that give a marijuana-type high will likely be banned within a month and federal drug charges related to these products will be possible. The synthetic marijuana products are typically made of plant materials that are coated with chemicals that mimic the effects of THC, the active component in marijuana. Often labeled as incense or potpourri, synthetic marijuana is marketed under brand names including Spice, K2, Blaze and Red X Dawn. The products can sell for as much as $35 per ounce.