Synthetic Drug Discussion Heats Up Chamber Forum

By KBJR News 1

December 6, 2011 Updated Dec 6, 2011 at 8:28 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Every morning, people crowd a portion of Superior Street.

Many of them hoping to get their hands on incense and other brain stimulating products.

On Tuesday, The crowd was forming else where.

The Duluth chamber of commerce forum saw one of its largest crowds ever for the topic of synthetic drugs.

Tensions grew high.

The audience asked questions of those most intimately involved in the fight against synthetic drugs, and at the very end, owner of head shop Last Place on Earth, Jim Carlson stood up to defend his sale of the controversial products.

"I can get synthetic heroin if I've got a back ache, yet they go after this product because a few people abuse it."

He went on to say that Joey Carl, the teen who was shot by a police officer after attacking him with a baseball bat, was on alcohol-a legal stimulant.

"The guy that attacked the guy with the baseball bat he was underage, he was drinking, they had to shoot him, but drinking is legal."

Carlson's business neighbor and fiancé to Joey Carl' mother, at that point, had had enough.

"He was on synthetic drugs from your place. This was Janette's son who was shot and killed by your filthy drugs."

Speakers at the forum also expressed concern for the popularity of the drug.

"It's one thing to deal with heroine and marijuana and things like that. This is just one more nightmare that enters into the recovery area."

Lt. Steve Stracek, Commander of the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task force in Duluth, says this new fad has been hard for them to battle because unlike other drugs they don't know much about it.
Plus, he says, they don't have the data to back up any criminal charges and make them successful in those prosecutions.

"So we are taking our time to make sure we have the data, to make sure we have the research to back up the charges we will propose down the road."

Lt. Stracek says they've even called on Federal lawmakers like Amy Klobuchar to help in the fight.

But, with Jim Carlson's lawsuit against the city for a September raid of his shop still pending a verdict, this is surely not the last we've heard of this controversy.

Courtney Godfrey