CLEARFIELD – Tim Lee, owner of Twist of Fate in downtown Clearfield, told the Clearfield County Commissioners during Tuesday’s public comment session that he doesn’t have synthetic drugs for sale at his business located in the basement of 22 North Third St.
“I have never sold synthetic drugs there, and I never will sell synthetic drugs there,” he said.
Lee believed the accusations came against him and the business, while he does sell items, such as glass art tobacco pipes, hemp jewelry, tie-dye goods and BOHO clothing.
“I don’t have any chemicals; I don’t even keep them in my own house. You’re talking to someone who doesn’t even take ibuprofen,” said Lee, who abandoned alcohol after 23 years of use. He described alcohol as once being his “gateway drug,” meaning while under its influence, he’d “do anything in front of him.”
Lee, whom has loss close friends because of drug abuse, said when synthetic drugs are mixed, it enhances the effects of others and creates an “extra buzz.” The side effects include rapid heart rate, extreme paranoia, hallucinations and oftentimes death, he said.
Lee shared the same concerns about the synthetic drug problem county-wide and encouraged them to form the Public Awareness Committee. Although he currently doesn’t wish to join the committee, he expressed interest in staying informed, obtaining additional facts and speaking at meetings.
“It’s been banned in Luzerne County and outlawed in the state of Louisiana. That’s telling me we need to get on this. We need to do something about it here,” Lee said. Commissioner Chairperson Joan Robinson-McMillen said there’s currently a bill before state lawmakers, which could make bath salts illegal state-wide.
According to a prior GantDaily report, on April 26, the commissioners and the Lawrence Township, Clearfield Borough and DuBois City police departments teamed up by organizing a Public Awareness Committee to combat synthetic drugs.
Officer Mike Morris of the Lawrence Township Police Department said that drugs commonly known as K2, Spice, bath salts as well as other synthetic cannabinoids are “perfectly legal” and can be found for sale in local “head shops” and convenience stores.
“There isn’t anything to prevent the sale of these products to anyone 18 years or older. But it trickles down, you know. They have friends who are 16 and 17 years old, and those kids have friends who are 14 and 15 years old,” he said.
Morris recalled recent incidences handled by local police departments. In one case, someone had mixed bath salts and heroin; in another it was a combination of a prescription medication and spice.
According to him, a Luzerne County judge signed an injunction Monday, April 25, banning the sale of bath salts throughout his county. Synthetic chemicals have also been banned at the state level in Louisiana, Florida and North Dakota.
“In Louisiana, kids are now crossing into Mississippi (to purchase the synthetic drugs),” he said. “We need to educate ourselves and the public and see what can be done here.”
Morris said anyone who is currently found under the influence of synthetic drugs can at most be cited for public intoxication, while laws specifically apply to alcohol and controlled substances. The Clearfield County Jail cannot always house these individuals, and they’re sometimes left to “detox” at the hospital.
Warning signs are similar to marijuana, but in high doses, users of synthetic drugs experience severe hallucinations and paranoia. Around the house, family and friends may notice pipes, cigarette rolling paper, etc.
Bath salts are usually snorted or injected by the user who may experience dilated or constricted pupils and show apparent cold symptoms, such as excessive sniffling. Only their eyes and nose are affected by the symptoms, he said.
Morris said a German study revealed some synthetic drug labels listed chemicals but when tested a different chemical make-up was determined. He said what’s on the label isn’t always what the user is getting.
Commissioner Mark B. McCracken suggested that the county investigate the possibilities of enacting a ban similar to that in Luzerne County. Morris noted that synthetic drugs have been banned at all military academies.
The commissioners would like law officials, educators, members of the legal community and parents to become active with the Public Awareness Committee. Letters of interest should be submitted to the commissioner’s office, 212 East Locust St., Suite 112, Clearfield, PA 16830.