SC takes stand against synthetic drugs

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - Synthetic marijuana and hallucinogenic bath salts used to be sold right over the counter at convenience stores and other shops all over the state.

"You've got a lot of folks out here that are under the impression that if they sell it, it's legal, legally sold at the store, it must be okay," said Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner.

But now, eight of the chemicals commonly used in these substances are now considered schedule 1 controlled substances in South Carolina, making them illegal in the Palmetto State. A new ban Sheriff Tanner is all for.

"It's a problem all over the state," said Tanner. "It may not be as severe here but it is a problem and a growing problem. We're seeing an increase in use of spice and bath salts so this is something that absolutely had to be done. This is something we're very happy DHEC did what they did."

In fact, Sheriff Tanner says they recently confiscated some of these substances.

"We got a lot of spice and bath salts out of a traffic stop but we didn't have the authority to make the case," said Tanner. "We did confiscate the substance and turned it over to DEA and now DEA is going to prosecute the case and through the State's Attorney's Office. Now that we have a state law, we enforce the laws similar to the federal."

The new law gives local law enforcement agencies the authority to fight the war on these kind of drugs and get them out of the hands of teens and young adults.

"We'll treat bath salts and spice the same as we treat cocaine and crack and heroin and every other drug under schedule," said Tanner. "We'll eradicate and arrest and do everything we currently do now with other drugs."

Several months ago, The Marine Corps banned Marines and Sailors throughout the Tri-command in Beaufort from several stores in the county that sold synthetic marijuana or spice.

We talked to an employee at one of those stores banned. Employees say they're still unclear as to what is considered illegal, but they say with this new ban in place, they have taken anything considered to be spice off their shelves and have shipped it back to the distributor. They say they plan on complying with the law.

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