Authorities cracking down on synthetic marijuana & "bath salts" - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Authorities cracking down on synthetic marijuana & "bath salts"

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso and the Calcasieu District Attorney's Office are taking an aggressive approach to crackdown on synthetic marijuana and "bath salts." This comes just days after Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 12 making the substances illegal.

At a press conference Monday morning Sheriff Mancuso sent a warning out to people buying and selling the illegal substances, which are advertised as herbal incense and bath salts.

"I'm sure we will do undercover buying and spot checks at our convenience stores. So if we buy it, we are going to arrest not only the store clerk but the owner of the store. They know it is illegal. It's been very highly publicized in the last few weeks. Because these are very dangerous substances and we are taking it very seriously just like we do any other drugs," said Mancuso.

The American Association for Poison Control Centers has received more than 4,500 calls since 2010 concerning the use of synthetic marijuana.

The drugs can cause a variety of side effects, including rapid heart rates, elevated blood pressure, seizures, severe agitation, confusion, anxiety and in some cases suicidal thoughts.

"We've had calls from parents who have found this stuff and had a problem with a child with paranoia and some health problems related to it. But at the time again we really couldn't do anything," said Mancuso.

While deputies will enforce the law and make arrests, the Calcasieu District Attorney's Office will prosecute.

"We will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Because these drugs are very, very dangerous. The worst part about it is we don't know everything they will do to our kids and they don't know either," said Cynthia Killingsworth, Calcasieu Lead Prosecutor.

The penalties include jail time and fines.

Bath Salts:
Possession with Intent or Distribution:
Not less than five nor more than 30 years in prison, with at least five being without the benefit of parole or suspension, and/or a fine of not more than $50,000.

Simple Possession:
0 to 10 years in prison and a fine of 0 to $50,000.

Synthetic Marijuana:
Possession with Intent or Distribution:
Not less than five nor more than 30 years in prison, with at least five being without the benefit of parole or suspension, and/or a fine of not more than $50,000.

Simple Possession, 1st Offense:
Fined not more than $500 and/or parish jail from 0 to 6 months.

Second Offense:
Shall be fined not less than $250 nor more than $2,000 and/or 0 to five years of hard labor

Third offense:
0-20 years at hard labor and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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