LANCASTER — State and local officials seized 62 packets of suspected synthetic marijuana from a Lancaster gas station on Thursday night.
Usman “John” Muhammad Chapra, 28, of Lexington, was arrested at the Shell gas station at 201 Lexington St., according to Kentucky State Police Trooper Paul Blanton. Chapra was charged with second-degree trafficking in controlled substances, taken to Lincoln County Detention Center, and almost immediately bonded out of custody.
Blanton said the KSP’s Drug Enforcement Special Investigations unit, KSP Richmond Post troopers, Lancaster police officers and Garrard County deputy sheriffs worked together to execute a search warrant and arrest Chapra.
A police officer investigating another situation earlier this week learned that synthetic marijuana was still being sold in Lancaster, Blanton said. The packets seized, “Happy Tiger” and “Black Magic,” are not in accordance with federal, state or city laws. Kentucky legislators banned the substances in June and Lancaster City Council passed an ordinance in March banning the use, sale and possession of synthetic drugs.
Blanton said some people smoke synthetic marijuana because it is much harder for employers or probation officers to detect in random drug tests.
“Because the synthetic drugs are so new, routine drug tests do not screen for them,” Blanton said. “It would cost about four times as much money to test for some of these chemicals.”
Blanton said it is too soon for medical science to determine just how dangerous synthetic marijuana can be to the human body, and part of the problem is that each blend has a variety of unknown chemicals as well as more natural substances like hay and clover.
“These are falsely being advertised as legal and safe highs, but there are cases where people have died from these drugs,” Blanton said.
Lancaster City Councilman Chris Davis, who is also a teacher, drafted the ordinance that banned synthetic marijuana, methamphetamine, opiates and PCP in the city. He said he was pleased to hear about police officers enforcing the law and hopes the raid will show other merchants that it truly is illegal to sell such substances in Lancaster
“These drugs can be really dangerous,” Davis said.
Unfortunately, the raid does not stop Internet sales of synthetic marijuana, bath salts and other potentially dangerous substances to children and adults living in the Lancaster area, Blanton said.
“I really want to caution parents to be aware of this problem,” Blanton said. “These days, it’s very easy for a teenager to go to a store with cash, get a debit card and order these substances with overnight delivery.”