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An open letter regarding synthetic drugs

As of this morning, I have no official response from the collective ownership of North & West of the Border [in Rindge] on their intentions with respect to removing or keeping synthetic drugs on their shelves.

I have reached out to offer them the opportunity to meet with me individually or collectively to discuss the displeasure of the community, educate them about the product, and solicit their voluntary commitment to no longer market the product in the Town of Rindge. I look forward to their participation. At this point the ball is in their court, and the ultimate decision to continue selling the product is theirs to make. Meanwhile the Police, and the community watch and wait to see whether or not the business will choose to do the right thing voluntarily.

It is my sincere hope that they do make the right decision. Whether cooperation is gained or not, it does not diminish the importance a local effort to ban these products by way of a town ordinance prohibiting them. I plan to move forward toward that end locally on this matter, and I have a scheduled meeting with the City of Keene’s Attorney, the Attorney General’s Office, and NHSP Crime Lab this week in furtherance of that effort. I will be reaching out to Senator Peggy Gilmour District 12, and State Representatives Susan Emerson, John Hunt, and the NH Chiefs of Police Association for additional support on the matter.

As momentum is gained on this topic the need for state legislation will grow. As communities ban the product, the product will find its way into towns and cities that do not have local ordinances prohibiting them, and thus the problem will not go away….it will just relocate itself….maybe in your community? Someone recently said to me, “Chief, this is no different than selling alcohol with an age requirement……it’s a legal product that is only sold to those 18 years of age or older.”

I think that comment severely understates the seriousness of the issue at hand here. It minimizes the inherent health risks and dangers posed to our community and our youth when risky and irresponsible behavior leads to consumption of this product. This is a product recently making its debut into a market under questionable circumstances. It’s intended purpose is to mimic the effects of smoking marijuana. Not much is known about who makes it or distributes it. Not all packages have the manufacturer name and address on them, nor do all of them have the ingredients listed on them. Most packages list that “the following illegal ingredients are not contained in this product” and cites various laws in other states, still leaving the consumer and NH law enforcement questioning what are the ingredients contained within.

The fact remains that there is still much to be learned about these products, their manufacturer, and distributors. Essentially at this point in time in NH there is very little control, screening, and monitoring of where the product is coming from, who is packaging it, what the ingredients are, and what the harmful effects are if ingested. What is known is that manufacturers continue to alter chemical compositions as quickly as the D.E.A Drug Enforcement outlaws them. What is also known is that these products remain popular to youths, but not for the purposes of incense and potpourri to make their bedrooms smell better — and certainly not for the wide range of prices from $6 to $100, depending on the brand. It’s clear that the product is sought for consumption to achieve an effect otherwise prohibited by law as an uncontrolled analog of an illegal drug. Alcohol as it exists today is controlled, monitored, packaged, distributed, and dispensed in accordance with laws governing them as deemed proper by society. The health risks are known, and for the most part alcohol is deemed socially acceptable. Synthetic cannabinoids on the other hand, I submit, are none of the above. We all have a good reason to be concerned.

Rindge Police Chief
Frank Morrill

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