WASHINGTON -- While the D.C. council debates whether to decriminalize marijuana, a synthetic version of the drug is wreaking havoc on teens.
The synthetic pot is sold at gas stations and in small grocery stores -- often in Southeast -- in a lollypop form. It's sold under a variety of names, including Scooby Snax and Joker, and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier says the fact that it's not actual marijuana does not mean it's safe to consume.
"We've had a lot of kids showing up in the ER with heart palpitations and everything else from using it," she says. "We've been seizing a lot of it."
The chemicals contained in the product are supposed the mimic the effect of marijuana. They've been outlawed by the federal government. But getting the stuff off store shelves is proving difficult.
"The manufacturers of these synthetics are constantly changing the chemicals, which means it's very difficult for us to make it illegal and therefore hold business owners accountable."
Lanier says every time her department seizes the fake pot, it has to be tested in a lab to determine which chemicals it contains. By the time the results are in and lawmakers move to add the chemicals to the "banned" list, the manufacturers change the chemicals.
Police say they need the public to help track down which stores are selling the fake pot. To leave a report, call 202-727-9099.
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