FOX 5 Investigates: DC leaders, police pushing to get synthetic - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

FOX 5 Investigates: DC leaders, police pushing to get synthetic marijuana off the streets

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It's a dangerous trend that is taking hold in our area -- targeting kids as young as 13 years old.

But now police and city leaders are making businesses that sell synthetic marijuana the target in an effort to get this deadly substitute off the streets.

The packages come in bright colors with cute cartoon characters on the label like Dopey and Scooby Doo.

One local teen commented on the packaging. He said, "Who doesn't like Scooby Doo. I mean come on."

And with tempting flavors like blueberry, strawberry and grape, there's no mistaking who this product is being marketed to.

Synthetic marijuana goes by the street names Bizzaro, K2, Spice, Joker, and Scooby Snax.

It's dangerous and it's being sold to kids.

That same teen talked about seeing young kids use it firsthand.

"One time I saw a kid as young as 13, 14, buy it. They didn't ask for no ID or anything,” he said.

That is just one of the reasons fake weed is so popular with kids. It’s easy to get, it's cheap, and it's just about everywhere.

A FOX 5 hidden camera investigation found it in gas stations, carryouts and liquor stores.

And some owners were caught by more than just our cameras.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray talked about what he experienced when he checked businesses throughout the city.

"I was able to walk behind the counter and I said I want to see what you all have back here,” he said.

He says he found scores of fake weed, packaged and ready for sale. But now he says enough is enough.

"You're not going to bring this junk into our community and contaminate our kids!” he told members of the community at a community event.

A few weeks after our investigation, the District unveiled its newest weapon in the battle against synthetic marijuana. It's called the "K2/Zombie DC" campaign. And the message is aimed directly at the audience targeted by the product's manufacturers: kids.

He told members of the community, "Let's tell Scooby Doo to go to another city. Let's tell him to take a hike."

D.C. Police and city regulators have put businesses on notice that these types of products are illegal.

But we found some stores still selling it. We found two locations in Northwest D.C.

Earlier this month, members of the Narcotics and Special Investigations Squad confiscated fake weed from both locations and let the owners off with a warning to stop selling it.

But owners ignored the warning. Police tell us after buying Scooby Snax and similar products from the stores again, both owners were arrested and charged with felony distribution last week.

Police recovered 900 grams of Scooby Snax from a location in the 1200 block of 5th Street alone. Both owners were released and scheduled to appear in court.

And although a different store in Southeast didn't sell to our producer, we witnessed a person go into the store and buy Scooby Snax.

After we turned the package over to police, we went back to get answers.

When FOX 5 Investigative Reporter Sherri Ly questioned the clerk, she was told that they didn't sell it anymore.

But police working to get it off the streets say it's all about the money and many store owners are still willing to take the risk with big money. D.C. Police Commander Melvin Scott quoted some numbers.

"$450,000 to $1 million. Stores are getting 100 percent of the profit. It's a big money maker,” Scott said.

He says even though they are working hard to get synthetic marijuana off the streets, it's just the tip of the iceberg.

"It’s just a small fraction of what we recovered already and what's still out there,” he continued. “It's just a small fraction.”

However small, police and city leaders say the battle against synthetic marijuana will continue.

"We are going to win it,” Mayor Gray said. “We absolutely are. Our biggest victory will come with preventing the kids from using it in the first place."

Police in the District would like you to contact them if you know of a business that is still selling these products. You can text them with the location at "50411.”

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