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Why Synthetic Drugs Are Still Sold At Gas Stations In Georgia

Attorney General Sam Olens wants nine major oil companies to ban all synthetic drugs at their gas stations in Georgia.
Attorney General Sam Olens wants nine major oil companies to ban all synthetic drugs at their gas stations in Georgia.
Credit Kelley McCall / Associated Press

Georgia’s Attorney General is asking major oil companies like BP, Chevron and Exxon to stop selling synthetic drugs at its gas stations. These are the drugs you can find in the tobacco section … with names like Scoobi Snax and Herbal Spice. A broadcast version of this story followed by an interview with hosts Rose Scott and Denis O'Hayer on “A Closer Look.”

According to the Georgia Poison Center, it’s getting fewer and fewer calls these days related to synthetic drugs, and in 2012, the state outlawed synthetic marijuana. So why is Attorney General Sam Olens turning his attention to these drugs again? Because, he says, the laws aren’t keeping up.

“Each year, the legislature passes a bill that makes certain compounds felonies. The problem is, as soon as the bill’s passed, they immediately change the compositions further where it’s not technically a felony until the legislature next comes into session,” Olens says.  

Olens wants nine major oil companies to ban all synthetic drugs at their gas stations in Georgia.  

Dr. Gaylord Lopez is director of the Georgia Poison Center. He says many drugs like bath salts are mislabeled. So it could be that gas station owners have no idea that what they’re selling is illegal. But he suspects differently. 

“Probably what they’re trying to do is make a quick dollar and they continue to sell them because they can’t keep ‘em on the shelves,” Lopez says. 

He says many synthetic drugs are appealing to young users.

“Just because you can get in a place that’s not a shady back lot or side street, or in a bad part of town or maybe even over the internet, there’s no data on safety,” Lopez says. “The users are playing Russian roulette.”

The Georgia Poison Center says it received about 60 emergency calls for synthetic drugs last year.