Police, stores reach deal on synthetic drugs

RINDGE — Community concern about the sale of synthetic drugs in two Rindge locations — North of the Border on Route 202 and West of the Border on Route 119 — has prompted the convenience store ownership to agree to stop selling the products, marketed as potpourri, at both sites, according to Police Chief Frank Morrill.

But just because the products that mimic the effects of marijuana are reportedly off store shelves in Rindge today, the larger problem and statewide concern about synthetic drugs has not disappeared, Morrill said by phone Monday. Police and members of Rindge Crime Watch are considering a wide-ranging ordinance that would permanently ban Rindge retailers from selling synthetic drugs, he said.

It is unclear at this time how the removal of synthetic drugs — which range in price from $6 to $100 depending on the brand — could impact the local businesses. Despite the reported agreement, store ownership declined to comment Monday during a brief conversation with the Ledger-Transcript.

In a press release emailed to the Ledger-Transcript on Thursday, Morrill wrote, “An owner of the business and I met today at the Rindge Police Department whereby a voluntary agreement was made by the collective ownership to no longer market the products in question.”

Morrill said Monday that the ownership agreed to remove the products from store shelves by the end of the business day Thursday, adding, “They were very eager to ensure the public’s confidence in them, and I want that as well.”

At Thursday’s meeting with one of the store owners, who police declined to name, Morrill said he spoke about the potential health risks and dangers to those who use synthetic drugs. Morrill said he also expressed concern to the store owner about how the products are being marketed to youth and the attention that their sale has received locally.

At a community meeting on July 16 with police and members of Rindge Crime Watch, police showed residents the bright, eye-catching packages in which the synthetic drugs are marketed and sold. Playful names such as California Kronic, Mad Monkey, Scooby Snax and California Dreams are splashed across the front of the packages, in addition to cartoon-like characters.

The two convenience stores in Rindge have sold the products for the past few years, according to police. The packets have remained behind the checkout counters and not in public view, Morrill said, which has resulted in many adults not even knowing that the synthetic drugs are there.

The removal of these products from North of the Border and West of the Border is progress, but Morrill said there is more to be done to ensure public safety with respect to their continued sale throughout the state, including in nearby towns such as Keene.

The sale of synthetic drugs is not controlled in New Hampshire and their chemical makeup often changes, making them an elusive target, Christopher Davis, an investigator with the N.H. Division of Liquor Enforcement and Licensing, said at the July 16 Rindge Crime Watch meeting. Investigators are trying to track down who is supplying the retailers with the packets, but they have not been successful as of yet, he said.

Morrill said he will be meeting this week with the N.H. Attorney General and representatives from the city of Keene to begin sharing ideas for how to best draft separate ordinances banning the sale of synthetic drugs in Keene and Rindge. “Rindge police and Crime Watch will support that effort until an end is reached,” he said.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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