Attorney General Hosts Synthetic Drug Hearing

By KBJR News 1

June 7, 2013 Updated Jun 7, 2013 at 6:15 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)-- Hundreds of people packed two rooms at the Sheraton in downtown Duluth, to listen to a conversation about synthetic drugs.

Minnesota's Attorney General hosted the hearing, hoping to arm cities, like Duluth, with the tools to battle synthetic abuse.

The hearing lasted just over four hours with dozens of people testifying. Attorney General Lori Swanson says that cities and municipalities have the ability to tackle the issue.

"A city council can meet around the year and, so, by passing that type of activity at the local level, they can amend and modify as market forces dictate," said Swanson.

One of her suggestions is a drug paraphernalia ordinance that has hindered head shops in cities like Moorhead, Minnesota.

"We had all kinds of problems with synthetics," said Moorhead Police Lt. Brad Penas. "We had armed robberies at our head shops, creating some public concerns."

A strong stance against synthetics in Moorhead effectively eliminated public sales of the drug.

The hearing also had emotional and passionate testimony from those personally affected by the dangerous side effects of synthetic drugs, including a mom that shared her son's tragic story.

"His mind was forever lost," said Lynn Habhegger of Duluth. "The psychosis brought on by synthetic drugs never dissipated, but has only grown worse over time."

But, Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson says that the public's outrage is misguided.

"There are all kinds of stuff out there," said Carlson. "People drink mouth wash. They sniff paint and glue so there are all kinds of things going on in this county but we don't ban everything."

Carlson also maintains that his incense is legal and he has no intention of stopping soon.

Zach Vavricka

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