Drug Enforcement Administration

San Diego

Karen I. Flowers, Special Agent in Charge

June 02, 2015

Contact: Kameron Korte

Phone Number: (571) 324-6204

DEA Makes Undercover Purchases Of Synthetic Drugs

Stores Fined Heavily

SAN DIEGO - During the past two years, DEA has partnered with Naval Criminal Investigative Service, (NCIS), Camp Pendleton and 32nd Street offices, and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office to make a series of undercover purchases at Aroma Avenue and Cabana Smoke Shop.  These purchases were made at a number of other similar retailers. The results of this joint investigation revealed that the sale of Spice remains prevalent in San Diego County - despite laws prohibiting its sale and the serious health risks associated with using synthetic cannabinoids.

The chemical compounds used in the manufacture of spice have fueled a nationwide health crisis of epidemic proportions. These dangerous chemicals are designed to mimic the effects of marijuana and are typically sprayed on plant material and then smoked or ingested. However, these compounds are many times more potent than marijuana and health officials throughout the nation have sounded an alarm due to a sharp increase in hospital visits resulting from spice-related emergencies.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced a civil settlement today of consumer protection case against an Oceanside smoke shop, Aroma Avenue, which was illegally selling Spice, a dangerous synthetic drug which has been banned by the State of California.  In the settlement, Aroma Avenue agreed to a permanent injunction prohibiting the sale of Spice, and has also agreed to pay $23,500 in civil penalties, costs and other relief.  Additionally, the Office of the District Attorney also filed a civil complaint against Cabana Smoke Shop, located in Imperial Beach, for an injunction, civil penalties and other relief related to the sale of Spice.  The cases arise from a joint investigation with the Drug Enforcement Administration and NCIS aimed at stopping the sale of synthetic cannabinoids in San Diego County.

Since January 2012, selling synthetic cannabinoid (psychoactive bath salts and certain herbal incenses) have been illegal in California. Those who have been taken to Poison Control Centers report symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. Spice can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart. Still, a number of convenience stores, smoke shops and other retailers have continued to sell the drug despite the new law. Some of the brand names under which “spice” is sold Mr. Nice Guy, California Dreams, Scooby Snax, Green Buddha, 24K and Nuclear Bomb.

For more information about the dangers of all synthetic drugs, please visit www.dea.gov or www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com.

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