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'This is what the kids are smoking'


Last Edited: December 19, 2011, 5:28 pm

December 17, 2011

‘This is what the kids are smoking’


Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News


CUMBERLAND — They come in teabag-size packets and small vials about the size of a long thimble and have names like Legal Eagle Patriotic Potpourri and Rip its.  They contain a mixture of herbs and chemicals and are labeled “not for human consumption.” 
It’s fake pot and the stuff is dangerous, said Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson. 
To highlight the ease of availability of synthetic marijuana, Robertson last week, in full uniform, walked into a local shop and bought one packet and one small vial of the so-called potpourri using $21 of his own money.   The products are completely legal. 
“The law is unable to do anything,” he said.
Robertson told the story to Allegany County commissioners and members of the local legislative delegation Friday.   Robertson hopes to enlist their help in fighting the growing use of the potpourri as a drug.   The sheriff asked legislators to support any laws which would help control or ban the products.
“They sell it as potpourri, but this is what the kids are smoking,” Robertson said.   He passed the products around the table for legislators and commissioners to take a look at the packages.   It’s not the herbs, but the chemicals sprayed on them, that have the effect of getting the user high when the product is smoked, Robertson said.   They are smoked after being rolled up in rolling papers, like a marijuana joint, or smoked in a pipe.
“I’m totally against this being sold,” he said.   The products are similar to bath salts but have different chemicals and somewhat different effects, Robertson said.
Synthetic drugs are already on the legislature’s radar, and a briefing book prepared for the 2012 General Assembly session contains information on synthetic cannabinoids, which have been linked to hallucinations, seizures, heart problems and suicides.   More than 30 states have banned the substances.
Robertson also asked legislators for help on panhandling.
“Basically, we’ve noticed a sharp increase in ... the past seven months,” Robertson told legislators.
People in the county are becoming increasingly concerned by a growing number of panhandlers asking for money, especially in the LaVale area, Robertson has said. 
The main concentration of the panhandlers has been in the LaVale area between Country Club Mall and Braddock Square.   The panhandlers also seem to be active on nearby National Highway.   The sheriff and his deputies have heard concerns from a large number of citizens, he said.
“It’s a safety issue when it comes to the roadway,” the sheriff said. 
Motorists may look over at the panhandlers and their signs, causing traffic safety issues and occasionally, panhandlers may block the road. 
A state law that may help out is already on the books, but doesn’t apply to Allegany County, Robertson said.   That law bans solicitation in public roadways. 
Myers said Washington County has faced a similar problem in the past.
“At Christmas time at the Valley Mall, it was incredible,” Myers said of the number and aggressiveness of the panhandlers.
Essentially the existing law only needs to be made applicable to Allegany County, Robertson said.   The sheriff asked legislators to make sure an exemption for charitable organizations and volunteer fire companies was included.
“That should be simple enough,” said Kelly.
Entry #6,289


Comment by PERDUE - December 19, 2011, 7:10 pm
This story is B.S. on top of B.S..
The complaints aren't from citizens. This his pet project and Robertson wants push it as far as it can go.
Sure there has been an increase in panhandling. Heck, look at all of the hard working Americans that's lost their jobs and are desperate or destitute.
You have kids smoking potpourri and snorting powderd candy.
Is it any wonder after viewing prime time? Is it any wonder when the solution to every ailment is a drug?
ToddComment by Todd - December 19, 2011, 7:18 pm
I agree Perdue, this is just silly. If people want to go smoking potpourri, let them. These legislators won't be happy until they get kids back to drinking alcohol, like back in the good old days before potpourri.

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