Durham police score their largest Spice bust

Feb. 27, 2014 @ 09:59 PM

Durham police seized more than 33 pounds of synthetic marijuana in a traffic stop this week, the largest bust of its kind for the department.

An officer from the Special Operations Division highway-interdiction team on Tuesday stopped a southbound car on Interstate 85 near Hillandale Road. During the stop, investigators said, they found synthetic marijuana – also known as Spice and K2 – in the vehicle.

“It is described as a psychoactive designer drug created by spraying natural herbs with synthetic chemicals that, when consumed, produce psychoactive effects similar to cannabis,” said police spokeswoman Kammie Michael. “It has become more popular in recent years.”

Police charged the driver -- Joe K. Hardy, 36, of Montgomery, Ala. -- with trafficking in synthetic cannabinoids and maintaining a vehicle for the sale and delivery of controlled substances. Hardy was held in the Durham County Jail under $1 million bond.

The National Institutes of Health reports that such drugs are marketed as safe, legal alternatives to marijuana and are popular among high-school seniors, especially boys.

“Easy access and the misperception that Spice products are ‘natural’ and therefore harmless have likely contributed to their popularity,” states the National Institute on Drug Abuse website. “Another selling point is that the chemicals used in Spice are not easily detected in standard drug tests.”

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