Synthetic Drugs for Sale | VideoAlan Miller | 10/24/2012
Big Willies is a tiny shop along the Strip in Mandan. Shortly after opening at 10:30 a.m. cars come and go, people walk in and out. You can even see them lined up inside. The traffic would easily surpass most fast food drive-thrus during lunch hour. And yet, those who regularly see what`s going on say this is a slow day.
So, what are they buying in there? Little colorful packets about the size of a Kool-Aid envelope that go for about $20 each and can be smoked, snorted or injected.
"And they`re sold technically in a little package that says it`s not for human consumption, it`s an incense product, or it`s a bath salt. In fact, the people that are purveying those substances know full well that people are taking them, typically young people are taking them to produce a high," said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
Witnesses along the Strip say Sunday at noon, the cars are lined up 30 to 40 deep. And others say that there are people so desperate to get there that they will dart in and out among traffic, running across the street in order to get there.
I went inside to see what was going on and talked to a worker who repeatedly said "no comment" when I asked about the legal items she was selling. She also told our crew in no uncertain terms to get off their property. You might ask, "Why don`t the police do something about it?" So far, the problem has been that when laws are enacted making certain substances illegal, producers alter the chemical makeup and create something just different enough to skirt the law.
For those who want to eliminate these synthetic drugs, the legislative session can`t come soon enough because they have a new plan of action.
"Identify the generic core substance and then say anything else that is a derivation of, chemical derivation of that core substance, will be illegal. And I think that if we do it that way, we will be able to cover everything, not only that now exists but that some basement scientist or chemist might be able to come up with," Stenehjem said.
Stenehjem says some of these drugs change so quickly, that two items with the same name can have different ingredients.
We should note that the owners of Big Willies, William Nickel and Ryan Zueger, have been convicted of selling synthetic marijuana, which is illegal, and could get up to ten years in prison when they are sentenced next week. Despite that, business there is still brisk.