“Mojo” sale criminalized by supervisors

Published 3:06 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2010

 Pearl River Co. supervisors on Monday voted unanimously 5-0 to outlaw the sale of what is called “mojo” in Pearl River County, a product some officials call a “synthetic marijuana.”

Those who sell and use it also refer to it as a “herbal incense,” said Poplarville Police Capt. Rossie Creel, who briefed supervisors on what is occurring in the county in relation to the product’s sale and distribution.

 A number of businesses throughout the county sell it.

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 Supervisor Hudson Holliday, after Creel finished his presentation, moved that the board adopt an ordinance outlawing the sale of the product inside Pearl River County, and Sandy Kane Smith seconded it.

 Said Holliday, “I think we ought to just outlaw it, and if they don’t like it, let them do something about it. . .”

Supervisors Anthony Hales, Joyce Culpepper and Patrick Lee joined Smith and Holliday in voting to outlaw the product.

 Holliday, in making the motion, said it would be better to outlaw the product now than wait for the State Legislature to act in January. He said he believed the state would “be slow” in moving against the matter and might not, in the end, do anything.

Creel said only one state so far has banned the product, which looks like marijuana and is sold as “incense.”

However, drug users roll it into rolling paper and also smoke it in their pipes as they do marijuana.

Creel said Poplarville police officials asked at least one establishment, Corner Discount Tobacco, to voluntarily stop selling it, and the owner said no, he was making too much money off of it.

The product is sold for $60 per three grams, sometimes more.

Creel also said that campus police at Pearl River Community College told Poplarville police that the product is being widely used on the PRCC campus.

In addition, the product is sold in some businesses throughout the county, even in gas stations.

 In some places it is advertised by telephone numbers on signs alongside roads and highways and can be bought off the Internet.

 Sheriff David Allison, who was at the Monday’s board meeting, said that if the proposed ordinance takes effect, he will immediately begin arresting anyone who is selling the product and charge them. The ordinance envisions a fine of $2,500 and 30 days in jail for each offense if convicted.

 Allison said he would enforce the proposed ordinance inside the cities of Picayune and Poplarville, too, since his jurisdiction also applies inside the city limits of the county’s two municipalities.

 Allison said he had been told that the product has five times the potency of agriculturally grown marijuana.

 Creel said that in drug tests done on users it does not show up as it does when marijuana is used.

Supervisor Smith said he saw the product sold to two young people in a quick stop and that no IDs were checked. “It is sold as an incense not a tobacco product,” he added.

 Creel said that a scientist at a university isolated the substance THC that is responsible for the high in marijuana. The herb’s producers found a way to inject it into the product, which is also called “spice” or in some instances “Triple XXX.”

Said Creel, “This product is causing serious issues, especially among young adults.”

 “They call it legal weed, because it has some of the same effects as marijuana,” said Creel.

 He said that what police in Pearl River County are encountering is called “mojo” and said that in Hancock County it is called “Triple XXX.”

 He said that it is marketed as an “herbal incense” and some of the substances in it were actually used in ancient times to induce drug like states.

“It is laced with synthetic THC chemicals,” said Creel.

 “As to local intelligence, we have one tobacco shop in Poplarville selling it for $60 for a three-gram package. “That is high here In and around New Orleans it sells for about $20 cheaper.

“It is the newest drug of choice for high school students,” said Creel, “just because they can get away with it and there are no consequences with using it since it is not illegal.”

Creel said both Louisiana and Alabama have already introduced legislation in their legislatures making the chemical compounds in the substance illegal.

 The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics has sent a proposal to the State Legislature, which will be taken up in January, said Creel.

The state of Kansas and some cities and counties in Arkansas are the only governments that so far have passed laws outlawing the sale of the substance, Creel told supervisors.