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Selling Synthetic Drugs as 'Potpourri' or 'Bath Salts' Now Illegal

Published On: Jan 14 2014 09:49:18 PM AKST

Reporter Mallory Peebles/Photographer Rick Schleyer


They’re advertised as potpourri or bath salts, but Anchorage Police say small bags sold at head shops and gas stations actually contain synthetic drugs. Now the sale of those drugs will be illegal in the municipality of Anchorage. 

Tuesday night the Anchorage Assembly voted to pass a law that goes after the stores selling the synthetic drugs, instead of the drug itself, which had been done in past laws. Backers of previous efforts said all it took was for scofflaws to tweak the chemical mixture before selling the synthetic drugs like spice once again.

The new law will make the sale of synthetic drugs advertised as something else punishable by a $500 fine and cited as a minor offense. Store managers will be cited and fined for each individual bag.

APD says state and federal laws make the chemical compounds illegal, but it's been hard to enforce. 

"These manufacturers that make these substances have been trying to skirt around [laws] by basically changing the compound," said APD Sergeant Mark Rein.

Municipal prosecutor Cynthia Franklin said during public testimony at the Anchorage Assembly that now officers can identify the synthetic drugs without chemically testing them. Franklin said authorities will likely give stores about one week to adhere to the new law.