State pushing for fines for selling synthetic drugs
by Lori Caldwell firstname.lastname@example.org October 16, 2012 5:24PM
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller talks with the media outside the Government Complex, in Crown Point, after filing a civil lawsuit against a former court clerk on Tuesday, October 4, 2011. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 18, 2012 6:51AM
Convenience stores and gas stations selling synthetic drugs such as bath salts, K2, Spice and potpourri face serious consequences from the state as part of a new push to hold business owners accountable.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller brought his statewide message to Northwest Indiana Tuesday afternoon, joining Lake County Prosecutor Bernard A. Carter to announce a plan to seek civil penalties against shop owners who sell synthetic drugs outlawed by the General Assembly last year.
“Punishment is a fine and costs, but also can mean a loss of a business license for up to a year,” Zoeller said.
Businesses are being notified of the crackdown, and the state is asking retailers to sign a pledge to stop selling the synthetics, which are clearly dangerous, Zoeller said.
Comparing the ingestion of the drugs to warnings involving use of lead paint, or choking hazards for young children, Zoeller said businesses “have no right to sell something that is a known hazard to the public.”
Carter noted that ingestion of the synthetics causes erratic behavior and may create long-term health problems.
“I applaud what the attorney general is doing. It will assist us,” he said. Various police departments have arrested clerks for making the sale, but Carter said it’s the owners who must be held responsible.
“We don’t want to go after the clerks. We want to go after the owners,’’ he said.
Businesses caught selling the drugs — sometimes displayed on the counter but often hidden behind the counter — must pay for a chemical analysis of the material.
Zoeller said “evil chemists” continue to modify the ingredients in an effort to skirt the criminal law restrictions.