Clerk arrested for selling spice, a first in St. Pete - FOX 13 News

Clerk arrested for selling spice, a first in St. Pete

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The first spice arrest in St. Petersburg marks a new chapter in the law book officers use to battle synthetic drugs.

This spice bust happened when undercover agents bought something called "Mister Happy Potpourri" at Nessa Drive Thru.

The convenience store sells snacks, cigarettes, and drinks delivered to customers in their car. 

Police say the owner, 54-year-old Meheren Nessa of Clearwater, handed over synthetic marijuana to undercover detectives on February 4th.

It was packaged more like potpourri.

"By all intensive purposes, it could have been potpourri. And that's what it is. It's synthetic marijuana. The kids are smoking it to get high," said St. Pete Police Chief Chuck Harmon.

It's also known as spice, and it's difficult to deal with legislatively because the chemicals inside keep changing.

So does the packaging, but kids know what they are getting for $20-30 a pack.

We asked around how common spice is in St. Pete.

"It has its generic name which is spice. You pretty much go to the convenience stores and say do you have spice? If they say yes they got it. I know they can't display it anymore," said Steven Coleman.

For months, police in St. Pete have warned store owners about selling synthetic marijuana.

"Every time we try, I feel like we're chasing our tails a little bit because every time we find the chemicals that are being used in it, they change the chemical make-up. So it's been a difficult thing for us to deal with legislatively, and this is the first one we've had where we actually found a banned chemical substance," said Harmon.

However, warning store owners of potential arrests, like Nessa's, seems to have an impact. 

"A lot of my friends that did smoke it, they can't find it. The places that sold it don't sell it anymore," Coleman said.

St. Pete City Council will look at an ordinance that regulates with the actual spice packaging and how it's distributed.

This has been effective in Pasco county as a way to make arrests without chasing those changing chemical compounds that make up spice.

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