April 02. 2013 8:54PM

Farmington police cracking down on synthetic drugs

Union Leader Correspondent

FARMINGTON - Police put a Route 11 business on notice about the dangers of synthetic marijuana, which are sometimes marketed as incense.

On Monday, officers warned the employees of the Farmington Lil General Store - which is the only business in town that sells the products - as part of an "aggressive approach" to curtail the access and use of synthetic drugs in the community.

"The department has seen a number of medical assist calls for service that have resulted from people ingesting these substances," Police Chief Kevin Willey said in an e-mail. "We have also had numerous members of the public who have come to us asking to do something because one of their family members has become addicted to these products."

Willey said at least one person has been charged for allegedly driving under the influence of the synthetic drugs.

Police, in conjunction with Strafford County Attorney Thomas Velardi, plan to prosecute people who smoke, ingest or inhale synthetic marijuana - especially over-the-counter substances known as "Peak" or "Scooby Snax."

As they are increasingly being used by high school students, purchasing these products for another person - especially anyone under 21 - will also result in charges under RSA 644:5-a, Inhaling Toxic Vapors for Effect, according to police.

While these products are currently legal and are labeled "Not For Human Consumption," they are often sold near tobacco products and next to smoking devices.

According to a 2012 report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some of the side effects of synthetic marijuana include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, hallucinations, increased blood pressure, a reduction of blood to the heart and - in a few cases - heart attacks.

Regular users may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms, according to the report.

In July, federal, state and local officials seized more than 4.8 million packets of synthetic marijuana across the country - including about 2,100 packets in Somersworth.

More than 90 people were taken into custody and at least $36 million in cash was seized as warrants were executed in 109 communities throughout the country, including at a home in Gilford and stores in Salem and Somersworth.