By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Hundreds of bags of organic herbal potpourri were confiscated from two Portales smoke shops Wednesday by local law enforcement executing search warrants.
The search warrants, based on information from a police informant, said police had probable cause to search the smoke shops because they believe the potpourri was synthetic marijuana being sold for human consumption.
No criminal charges have been filed.
Police also confiscated pipes and electronic devices that might be used for smoking the product — often referred to as spice.
A third smoke shop declined to sell the incense to the informant, police said.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Malin Parker said the informant clearly indicated she intended to smoke the incense.
Andrew Maes, owner of Smokin Dreamz, said he felt he was set up and that the informant did not make it obvious that she intended to use the product for consumption.
“I didn’t know what she was going to do with that, but our product is not sold for consumption,” Maes said. “She didn’t make it clear at all and she said the pipe was for her boyfriend. Our product is totally compliant with the law.”
Parker said the reason for the investigation was an increase in incidents that has involved the hospitalization of area youth after consuming the substance. Parker said the most recent incident happened Saturday and involved the hospitalization of three teenage females after smoking the product.
“We decided to take action,” Parker said. “We also listened to our citizens and we had just a bunch of complaints from our citizens. We acted on their concerns.”
Parker said the suspected synthetic marijuana will be sent to a state lab to determine if substances intended to mimic THC, the hallucinogenic component in marijuana, are present.
“They’re selling this stuff knowing (customers) are consuming it,” Parker said. “We sent an informant in here to buy pipes and made it obvious that they were going to smoke the synthetic marijuana.”
Maes said the potpourri is only 10 percent of his stock but officials cleared his shelves. In addition to selling the potpourri, Maes said he sells novelties, electronic cigarettes, glass pipes and tattoo supplies.
“They’re taking everything we have to live for, they’re seizing everything,” Maes said. “We’re a small business. It’s like sitting on a pile of money that’s getting burned.”
Parker said all the items confiscated will be logged into evidence and the agencies will consult with the district attorney’s office on charges within the next week.