On Friday, March 22, deputies of the East Central Drug and Violent Offender Task Force served a drug search warrant at Stogies Tobacco Shop in Pine City.
The warrant was the culmination of a one year investigation into allegations that the shop was selling substances commonly known as synthetic marijuana. During the investigation into the activities of the business, undercover agents made purchases of products sold as herbal incense but that are marketed and used as a substitute for organic marijuana.
During the raid, deputies seized 800 one- and two-once packets of synthetic marijuana with a retail value of approximately $16,000. Deputies also seized $2,367 in cash. No arrests were made at the scene, but charges are pending.
Synthetic marijuana is defined by the Minnesota criminal code, but prosecuting individuals involved in selling it are difficult because manufacturers continually change the chemical components which produce the intoxicating effects. These products are extremely dangerous as their chemical components are similar to those used in bath salts and can produce psychotic episodes in users.