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A tobacco shop that’s not just a tobacco shop

Oh, synthetic drugs. My how we don’t like you.

News from across the state line hit Kansas City headlines a few months ago. A Platte City tobacco shop was busted for selling synthetic drugs. While the KC star article makes it seem like the shop didn’t initially appear to sell illegal products, what was stocked in the backroom was a whole different story. An undercover cop that bought K2 from the store uncovered all of the ways they made business … other than selling tobacco. The store is no longer in business and the owner, if convicted, faces up to seven years in prison.


Smoke shop wasn’t just selling tobacco – and got busted for supplying synthetic drugs to customers.

Synthetic Drugs are NOT Legal

Many people are confused about synthetic drugs. For one, are they legal or not? Synthetic drugs are NOT legal; however their initial entrance into the marketplace is what makes them confusing. Before the DEA realized what was happening, these drugs branded as “bath salts” or “fake pot” were sold on retail shelves. Over the past several years, law enforcement has cracked down on such activity and ruled it as illegal – however many manufactures continue to find ways to adapt their compounds and get away with production and selling, if not in stores – via online outlets. Despite what still may be considered “easy access” (in comparison to more traditional drugs), synthetic drugs are still illegal and extremely dangerous. As the KC Star article explains:

“Synthetic drugs like K-2 and bath salts are as dangerous – if not more dangerous – than other illegal drugs. And even though they have recently been sold in tobacco shops and convenience stores, no buyer or seller should operate under the illusion that they are legal.”Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd

Read the full story about the Platte City Synthetic Drug bust.

Lessons from the tobacco shop

I’m not sure if the smoke shop had a natural target on their backs considering their business runs off of people’s smoking hobbies. Nonetheless, the owner obviously thought he could sneak in extra products and not get caught; just like some employees think they can sneak in recreational drug use while at work and not get caught. Nobody is immune to getting caught and after a while, drug use (or the sale of drugs) will be uncovered in likely and unlikely places.

Common Synthetic Drugs


One popular synthetic drug, “Spice,” or fake pot.

Heads up, Lawrence – synthetic drugs are on the rise and chances are, with this college town, there’s definitely some usage going on. A report from the UN even says that synthetic drugs are the second-most used drugs in the world(second to pot) – beating out cocaine and heroine these days. And while we might focus our gaze toward the college campus at first, in all actuality, synthetic drug use could really be happening all over town.

What are Synthetic Drugs?

Synthetic drugs are sometimes known as the “legal” drugs… however not for long if state and national laws continue to form against them. They’re known as “fake” versions of traditional drugs, for example “fake pot,” yet they carry a greater risk than many traditional drugs. Synthetic drugs are sold on many shelves as “bath salts” and “pot-pourri” in hedge shops (look for the stores with hemp and pipes behind the counter.) While the EPA continues to try to outlaw synthetic drug compounds, manufacturers continue to find ways to produce and sell them in retail stores and online. It’s created widespread problems that are not getting any better. Teens and adults are winding up in the ER facing grave physical side effects from these extremely harmful synthetic drugs.

Become Familiar with Synthetic Drugs

If you’re an employer or parent and unfamiliar with synthetic drugs, here’s quick guide for what to keep on your radar. Know that these drugs are bad news – and there’s nothing “simple” or “harmless” about them. If you suspect your teen or employee is using synthetic drugs, get them drug tested for synthetics immediately. Just because they purchased the packet in the store or through a website doesn’t mean it’s safe. It’s actually very dangerous.

Common Synthetic Drugs

Here are some of the common names given to synthetic drugs.

For a great resource, view this list of the common synthetic drugs and their “nicknames.”

Synthetic Marijuana



Head Trip

White Rabbit

Red Dragon



Bath Salts

White Rush

Cloud 9

Ivory Wave

Testing for Synthetic Drugs in Kansas

Luckily, if you suspect use there are steps to take to uncover if synthetic drugs are being used. Our walk-in labs in Kansas City and Lawrence offer synthetic drug testing. If you’re at work, we can even come to you. Don’t take your chances with synthetic drugs. Take action today.