Some smoke shops close in wake of police raids

Becky Campbell • Mar 24, 2012 at 8:03 AM

Most area head shops or smoke shops that had been selling synthetic marijuana or bath salts are no longer in business, but at least one location still had an “herbal burnable” on its shelf Friday.

Route 66, located in Paul’s Mall on North Roan Street, had two products very similar to synthetic marijuana, but none of the bath salts.

The marijuana-like products are Mr. Nice Guy ‘LMAO’ and Purple Nurple.

An Internet search on both products indicate people use the material to smoke, even though the labels say it isn’t manufactured to use that way. The packaging of LMAO also states it’s an “herbal burnable” and according to various sites on the Internet, the product is being used to smoke.

Other stores, while still stocked with some products such as smoking pipes and T-shirts, are closed for business.

Cloud 9 Emporium, Magic Mushroom and Above the Clouds — all shops that opened in recent months to sell smoking paraphernalia as well as herbal incense and bath salts — are locked and dark.

“This is nothing but good news for the community,” said Johnson City Police Major Mark Sirois on Friday.

“When you have dangerous substances available, and because of this recent action, it can be nothing but beneficial for the safety of the community and all involved.”

State and federal agents raided several of the businesses — possibly as many as eight — in the region on Wednesday, including Cloud 9 Emporium on Oakland Avenue.

That store and Magic Mushroom, on West Market Street, have been closed since the raid, even though Magic Mushroom was apparently not specifically targeted.

Other businesses targeted in the raid Wednesday were Midnight Sky Novelties in Blountville, White Cloud Emporium in Bloomingdale, Things in Elizabethton, and two in Bristol, Tenn. — Cloud 9 Emporium and TN420 Emporium.

Of those locations, at least one remained open Friday. A man who answered the phone at Things said his store never sold bath salts and no longer has herbal incense.

Sirois said the raids did not prevent the business from opening.

“The businesses could still continue to sell the (other) products they wanted outside of these materials,” he said.

At least on Friday, it appeared most of those businesses chose to not do that.

Herbal incense is more commonly called synthetic marijuana and while the packaging says it isn’t for human consumption, it is generally used as a smoking material.

Highway Boutique, a long-standing head shop on West Walnut, is open and also no longer sells the herbal incense. A sign on the door informs customers the store never sold bath salts. That business was not targeted in Wednesday’s raids.

Also, two of three local Discount Tobacco stores have signs telling customers the establishments do not carry the products. The third store doesn’t have a sign, but the clerk behind the counter said he doesn’t have the incense product.

During a news conference on Thursday in Blountville, officials involved in the raids said they will continue to monitor all businesses that sold the synthetic drugs.

There were no arrests as a result of those raids, but the investigation is continuing, officials said.

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