Charges are pending against the owner of Pumpkin Center Store after authorities found what they believe to be synthetic marijuana at the store and her home.
At about 10 p.m. Thursday, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics investigators executed a search warrant at the Harlem-area store at 1313 Appling-Harlem Highway, according to sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris. The owner and two employees were detained inside during the search.
Investigators found 292 packets of what they believe is synthetic marijuana, the illegal Schedule I drug also known as Spice, behind the front counter and in the back office of the store, according to Morris. The packets will be sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Atlanta for further analysis and confirmation.
The owner told investigators she had more synthetic marijuana at her Evans home, where they found an additional 853 packets.
Authorities seized all the material believed to be synthetic marijuana, which has an average street value of $21,050, according to Morris.
Charges are pending against the owner.
The search and seizure is the second in two weeks from convenience stores. On June 21, Atul Patel, 49, owner of the Lewiston Express at 107 Lewiston Road, and his son Kinjalkumar Patel, 26, were charged with possession of a Schedule I drug with intent to distribute. At least 30 of the more than 400 packages seized from that store were confirmed to be the banned substance synthetic marijuana. The remainder also was sent to the GBI Crime Lab for analysis.
Synthetic marijuana, also know as K2 or Spice, is a psychoactive designer drug derived of natural herbs sprayed with synthetic chemicals that, when consumed, allegedly mimic the pleasurable effects of cannabis.
The searches, Morris said, were not part of an organized sting operation, but resulted from investigating complaints.
“(It is) one part of our drug enforcement efforts,” Morris said. “But synthetic marijuana is a growing problem.”