By Steve Guntli
County law enforcement officials recovered more than $13,000 worth of an illegal synthetic drug called “spice.”
The Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office and the Bellingham Police Department’s special investigations unit seized nearly four pounds of spice from two Bellingham businesses. The investigation led officers to a suite in a business park in Ferndale, where they believe the spice was manufactured.
On May 14, officers served search warrants at the Cigarette Shop at 1422 North Forest Street and Intercontinental Foods at 4564 Meridian Street. In addition to the 3.4 pounds of spice, officers found hundreds of empty containers, lids and labels used to produce and market the drug.
The estimated street value for the recovered spice is $13,737. The raid was the end result of a six-week investigation. According to a statement from the Bellingham Police Department, the investigation was meant to prevent harm to spice users who may be unaware of the damage it can cause.
Spice has been growing in popularity over the last few years, particularly among high school aged kids. Spice is usually sold for about half the price of a comparable amount of marijuana, but the effects of the two drugs are very different.
Contrary to popular belief, spice is not a natural drug, according to the Bellingham Police Department. The drug is produced by spraying herbs like spearmint, motherwort or strawberry leaves with synthetic chemicals and cannibinoids. When smoked, spice can cause hallucinations, increased heart rate, vomiting, agitation and confusion. It is often marketed as “aroma therapy,” and is sold under many different names, including Superstorm, Mr. Badass, Nitro, Woozy Willie and K2, often using cartoon characters or bright colors on the package.
Spice can be dangerous because users have no way of knowing which chemicals were sprayed on the herbs, or how much, according to the Bellingham Police Department. No charges will be laid until the investigation is complete.