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Rindge

A hidden and elusive issue

SYNTHETIC DRUGS: Rindge residents consider  ordinance that would make packets sold in two of the town’s stores illegal

  • Rindge Crime Watch and Rindge police held a drug seminar Tuesday night at the Rindge Recreation Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Rindge Crime Watch and Rindge police held a drug seminar Tuesday night at the Rindge Recreation Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Rindge Crime Watch and Rindge police held a drug seminar Tuesday night at the Rindge Recreation Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Rindge Crime Watch and Rindge police held a drug seminar Tuesday night at the Rindge Recreation Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Rindge Crime Watch and Rindge police held a drug seminar Tuesday night at the Rindge Recreation Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Rindge Crime Watch and Rindge police held a drug seminar Tuesday night at the Rindge Recreation Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Rindge Crime Watch and Rindge police held a drug seminar Tuesday night at the Rindge Recreation Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Rindge Crime Watch and Rindge police held a drug seminar Tuesday night at the Rindge Recreation Department.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

RINDGE — Police and members of Rindge Crime Watch are considering a wide-ranging ordinance that would ban Rindge retailers from selling synthetic drugs that when inhaled can mimic the effects of marijuana.

Two convenience stores in Rindge — North of the Border on Route 202 and West of the Border on Route 119 — sell the small packets of synthetic drugs, some of which include ingredient labels and others that do not. The products are sold in packets as herbal incense, or potpourri, and are available in eye-catching colors with playful names such as Sexy Monkey, California Kronic, Mad Monkey, Nuclear Explosion, California Dreams, Mr. Happy and Scooby Snax.

While no one under the age of 18 can legally purchase the incense, Police Chief Frank Morrill told the approximately 30 residents who attended Tuesday’s seminar on drug paraphernalia and synthetic drugs that he is concerned about how the products are marketed toward youth. And because the packets of incense are held behind the counter rather than displayed on store shelves, Morrill said many adults don’t even know the synthetic drugs are sold in their town.

“With Rindge supplying this from two locations, we’re a supplier town,” said Morrill in a follow up interview with the Ledger-Transcript. “I plan to visit the two stores, convey the displeasure of the community, educate them about this product, and ask them to take the moral high ground and remove them.”

The sale of these synthetic drugs is not controlled in the state and their chemical makeup often changes, making them an elusive target, according to Christopher Davis, an investigator with the N.H. Division of Liquor Enforcement and Licensing. Investigators are trying to track down who is supplying the retailers with the packets, but they have not been successful as of yet, Davis said.

Jamal Mortada, the co-owner of the convenience stores, said by phone Wednesday that if the police or town would like to see the products gone, he is willing to pull them from the shelves.

“Even if it’s legal, if they say, ‘stop selling it,’ I would stop selling it,” said Mortada. “If they want them taken out, I’ll stop selling it. We do business here. We’ve been here since 2004, and we’ve never had a problem with anyone. We’re not here to hurt anyone, we’re here to make a living. If it’s going to affect the town negatively, we won’t do it.”

The packets are kept behind the counter at both stores and are only available to those older than 18 with a valid ID, Mortada said, adding that they are not sold to young teenagers. Generally, the customers that purchase them are Massachusetts residents and in their mid-twenties, he said.

After checking with other businesses in surrounding towns, Morrill said he learned that Rindge is one of the only towns in the region that sells synthetic marijuana, with Keene being another. City officials in Keene are drafting an ordinance to ban the sale of synthetic drugs within city limits, Morrill said, adding that he is in favor of doing the same in Rindge. The towns of Wolfboro and Franklin currently have ordinances in place.

“The reason people are interested in getting an ordinance in place is that what’s happening at the state and federal law level is so slow,” Morrill said. “People want this stuff off their streets and they become passionate about getting it off. And frankly, so do I.”

Rindge and Keene are both college towns, with Franklin Pierce University in Rindge less than four miles from West of the Border where the synthetic drugs are sold.

There has been one instance of the same youth being caught with these substances both in Rindge and at Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School, Morrill told the Ledger-Transcript. “It’s not a prevalent problem, but I’m trying to be proactive. We have a huge youth population and the university,” he said.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Jaffrey Police Chief Bill Oswalt said he is familiar with the synthetic drugs sold at stores nationally and is concerned about their availability in the Monadnock region. “It’s a very real problem that is getting attention at the federal and state levels. But unfortunately, it’s going to be an elusive thing to control,” he said.

Various synthetic cannabinoids are added each year to the N.H. Controlled Drug Act as illegal substances, said Oswalt, but the manufacturers of the packets like those available in Rindge appear to respond quickly by either making a chemical adjustment or a packaging change.

In addition to Tuesday evening’s discussion about synthetic drugs, Rindge Police Sgt. Daniel Anair showed residents marijuana pipes, a grinder used to shred a bud of marijuana into small pieces and several other pieces of drug paraphernalia that Rindge police had stored in evidence. “Everything you see up here came directly through our streets or town somehow,” he said.

Anair let residents inspect carrying cases used to disguise marijuana, as well as a root beer soda can with a hidden container built in behind a screw-on top. That and a Pringles chips can with a similar built-in container were seized in a drug investigation at FPU, he said, adding that he made one himself out of a can of corn after finding the instructions online.

“This really gave all of the guys an eye-opening experience,” Anair said, adding that police search anything and everything now because of what they found that day at FPU.

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

I hope people realize that the Rindge police have been questioned about their credibility in the past. The police were speaking to the choir of 35 people on this subject. They have no business informing the public that the majority of Rindge wants this substance banned. Word is rapidly going around town that he didnt tell the full story on this matter. Some time ago the chief agreed that it was legal to sell this substance. All of a sudden he is trying to justify his job, and is trying to be a hero. When will the people wake up and realize what kind of person we are dealing with? Always bad news coming from Rindge salaried employees.

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