Attorney General Pam Bondi is urging, via a letter, that oil companies BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Citgo, Shell, Sunoco, Valero, Marathon, and Phillips 66 get their gas stations to stop selling synthetic drugs, including synthetic marijuana.
The letter, sent by Bondi and 41 other attorneys general across the U.S., expresses concern over these companies -- all household brand names -- for selling illegal and dangerous synthetic drugs.
Companies like Chevron, or BP, Bondi said through a news release, "give the appearance of safety and legitimacy to dangerous synthetic products."
You may be familiar with some of these as you've walked through a gas station to buy a pack of gum.
Synthetic marijuana, known as "spice" and sold under names like Yucatan Fire, K2, and Moon Rocks, is marketed as a safe and legal alternative to weed. Inside the package is basically shredded plant material and synthetic cannabinoid compounds that induce a psychoactive high.
While spice can give off the same effect as natural marijuana, some have experienced psychotic effects, extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. The DEA has designated the main ingredients and chemicals found in spice packages as Schedule I controlled substances, a list of illegal drugs that includes heroin, LSD, and mescaline.
Florida and specifically Broward and Palm Beach counties are no strangers to crimes tied to synthetic marijuana.
But authorities have done a decent job of cracking down on the materials over recent years.
"While retail sales were common several years ago, they are far fewer in Broward than they were then because of local ordinances aimed at retail sales and then state and federal bans on the first generation of those substances," Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at the Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health Disparities at Nova, tells New Times. "However, new products appear as old ones get banned."
A spice bill was unanimously passed by the Florida House of Representatives in 2013 that banned 27 synthetic drugs.
"We have made great strides in Florida by banning more than 131 chemical compounds found in the most common synthetic drugs, but more needs to be done to keep these dangerous drugs out of the hands of our youth," said Bondi via a release. "We are calling on oil companies to make sure franchisees keep these deadly drugs off store shelves."
Bondi added that the oil companies that own the gas stations need to be more diligent, especially since these products are popular mostly with kids.
"Enforcing stronger policies against the sale of synthetic drugs in retail locations can protect the brand reputations of these oil companies while also protecting our youth," Bondi says.
Among the requests the attorneys general made are prohibiting franchisees from selling any synthetic drugs; establishing a point of contact in corporate offices for franchisees, should they have any questions about synthetic drugs; revoking a franchise relationship with any gas station or convenience store that sells any kind of synthetic drugs; and reporting to local law enforcement any franchisee selling synthetic drugs.
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