Wednesday, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, along with the assistance of Orange, West Orange and Pinehurst Police Departments, conducted an undercover operation targeting several primary target locations engaging in the county wide distribution of synthetic marijuana. These stores are believed to be the main source of supply in Orange County.

On April 22, 2011 the Texas Department of State Health Services outlawed marijuana-like substances that are commonly found in K2, Spice and other synthetic marijuana products. The DSHS placed five synthetic cannabinoid substances in Schedule I of the Texas Schedules of Controlled Substances, making it illegal to manufacture, distribute, possess and sell the substances. The five chemicals, JWH -018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol are found in K2 and other synthetic marijuana substances.

Penalties for the manufacture, sale or possession of K2 are Class A or B misdemeanors. K2 or Spice, often marketed as herbal incense, contain substances that produce psychoactive effects similar to those from smoking marijuana. These marijuana-like substances are readily available through smoke shops, gas stations and the Internet.

The following locations were targeted in the operation:

Conoco Station, Hwy 105 at Hwy 62 in Orangefield;
Country Store, Hwy 1442 at Hwy 105 in Orangefield;
Country Store, Hwy 87 at Dawnwood in Little Cypress;
Chevron Store, Hwy 87 at Abes Rd. in Little Cypress;
Shell Station, Hwy 12 next to Post Office in Mauriceville;
Shell Station, Hwy 12 next to Rusty Rooster in Mauriceville;
JR’s Country Store, 5000 block of N. Main in Vidor;
JR’s Caney Creek, Caney Creek at N. Main in Vidor;
Quick Stop # 3, N. Main at 1132 in Vidor;
Lone Star Store, N. Main at Spoonmoore in Vidor.

The following stores were also targeted inside the City of Orange:

Shell Station, 1101 Green Ave.;
Valero Station, 1555 N. 16th St.;
Shell Station, 3110 N. 16th St.;
Texas Country Store, 3701 16th St.;
Shell Station, MLK at Strickland Dr.;
Smart Stop Across from Hospital on Strickland;
Stop & Drive, 1800 Dupont Drive

Officers made contact with clerks and or owners at each location to advise them of the law concerning synthetic marijuana, and also gave them a copy of the new law. All synthetic marijuana in each store was seized by officers.

No one was arrested as a result of this operation, however follow up visits will be made and arrests will be conducted if the stores continue to violate the new law concerning synthetic marijuana.

Bath Salts do not contain any of the banned substances as required by Texas State Law, which would make it illegal to possess or sell. However, current legislation is being discussed that will ban all bath salts that contain certain chemical. It is expected that this new legislation could be passed and take effect in as little as sixty days and at the latest by September 1, 2011.

The Sheriff’s Office has advised all stores that when the new legislation becomes effective pertaining to bath salts, anyone caught selling them will be arrested and prosecuted. Many of the store owners have voluntarily agreed to pull the bath salts off the shelves in anticipation of the change in the law.

Sheriff Merritt advised he would have liked to seize the bath salts as well but has no lawful authority to do so. Unlike the Cities who can enact City Ordinances making it a Class C Misdemeanor to possess bath salts, Texas
Counties, have no Regulatory Authority to enact ordinances pertaining to the possession or distribution of bath salts.