Wareham Board of Health targets stores selling synthetic marijuana

Oct 19, 2017

The Wareham Board of Health is investigating if the sale of colorfully packaged candy and brownies apparently laced with synthetic marijuana violates town regulations.

“The gummy bears look like gummy bears you would buy at any convenience store,” Health Inspector Patrick MacDonald told board members on Wednesday.

Health Agent Robert Ethier said that representatives from the offending stores will appear before the board on Nov. 1. The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Town Hall. Ethier declined to name the stores, saying the products are currently being tested by authorities.

“By then we’ll have enough information to go further and say if this is a finable offense, and if they’re caught again there will be a revocation of the license,” said Ethier.

He noted that the products were found during routine tobacco inspections. After the inspection, they were confiscated and local police, State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health were all notified.

Ethier said police are testing the products for synthetic marijuana, which contains chemicals that mimic the effects of THC, the mood altering substance found in natural marijuana.

In 2013, the board passed regulations banning the sale of those drugs in the wake of a nationwide scare where many people were hospitalized, or in some cases died, after ingesting products advertised as synthetic marijuana or bath salts. The products skirted drug laws because at the time there were no prohibitions against selling the chemical compounds.

Ethier said some of the local sellers may have been unclear about what is legal to sell following the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts last year. Despite legalization, it is still illegal to sell marijuana while the state irons out regulations for dispensaries.

“They think the law has changed, but it hasn’t,” said Ethier. “They’re not a dispensary and can’t sell marijuana or marijuana derivatives anyways.”