The new face of marijuana
Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The face of marijuana use is changing, a fact that can be attributed to products made and sold legally in marijuana-friendly states, according to local law enforcement. Those products are now making their way into states where marijuana use is illegal, and making the job of drug enforcement officers a little bit harder.
“This is really important because we need to keep up with current drug trends,” said Capt. Russell Davenport, head of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office drug unit. “Not only us, but parents and teachers, too.”
The unit made its first drug bust in which the illegal product was not the traditional marijuana joint or plastic baggies filled with the processed plant, Davenport said. Friday night, the arrest of Washington resident Philip Zachary Tankard yielded marijuana THC oil and marijuana THC wax, both of which are used with perfectly legal devices: e-cigarettes and vaporizer pens, more commonly referred to as vape pens. And it’s the implementation of these devices that makes the line between what’s legal and what only looks legal, but is not legal, a little blurry.
For example, JuJu Joints — seven of which were confiscated in Friday’s bust. Made in Seattle, the narrow black cylinders look just like any e-cigarette, but when drawn upon, a heating coil activates and heats cannabis oil to a boiling point. The vapor is inhaled and the result is a hit of 45-percent THC — tetrahydrocannabinol, the mind-altering ingredient found in marijuana — but without the smoke and marijuana’s distinct smell.
“You can see how easy it would be to hide that from law enforcement,” Davenport said. “Now, law enforcement will have to check whether someone is smoking a legal e-cigarette or if they’re smoking THC oil.”
At 82- to 99-percent THC, marijuana wax is much stronger than the marijuana typically seen in the area and also can be used with a vape pen.
“This is the first time we’ve arrested someone who was selling wax. We had heard it was heading in our direction and it’s here now,” Davenport said. “This is the market we’re going to start dealing with now.”
Davenport said getting the information out about drugs making their appearance in Beaufort County is part of the battle in keeping them from gaining a foothold here.
“I think it’s important to educate the public on the current drug trends,” Davenport said. “That way, they (users) can’t hide it from the public.”
Tankard was charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver a schedule IV and schedule VI controlled substance, maintaining a dwelling to keep and sell and controlled substance, possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was confined at the Beaufort County jail under at $20,000 secured bond.