Smoke Shop Defending to Keep Herbal Incense Legal

A Lubbock businessman is ripping the idea of a complete ban on herbal products. The Vice-President of Nothin' Butt Smokes, Shon Ross, said he has solutions for the sale of synthetic marijuana.

"We make sure that we lab test all of our products that we sell and ensure that they are Texas compliant," he said.

Not only does Ross test the herbal incense products on his shelves, he has an age limit on who can buy them.

"I think that needs to be in place statewide, if not city-wide because those individuals that are 16, 17, may fall under peer pressure that might encourage them to do something they shouldn't."

You have to be at least 18 to set foot into one of his stores. Ross recently sent a letter to Lubbock City Council members urging them not to pass a city-wide ban on synthetic marijuana.

"We purchase all of our products from larger companies," he said. "We require lab testing with every product that we receive. We actually put a book together for the City of Lamesa. We are in that city as well. We take the book to Council so they can review all of our products make sure they have all the lab results at the police headquarters and city council office."

Ross said if a complete ban was passed the city would lose money.

"Well, the herbal products since we started carrying them in 2009, and they were in Lubbock before then, have grown to a multi-million dollar industry in the City of Lubbock, he said. "The local tax revenue generated in the city is an excess of $400,000-to-$500,000 per year and to cut that out of the city revenues the city budget and force it outside the city limits...I think it's wrong."

On Friday, Assistant City Attorney Laura Pratt addressed Lubbock's Board of Health about synthetic drugs. Pratt said a complete ban on the drugs would be tricky.

"The state list for the synthetic drugs is very expansive," she said. "The problem that we are running into is the manufactures of these synthetic substances essentially try to stay one step ahead of the legislature. As soon as a drug is listed on the list of synthetic substances that are banned the manufacture tweaks the compound a little bit."

Chairman of the Board of Health, Dr. Brian Carr, said, "So while legal is very important to this, it is real clear that public education is going to be the real key."

Pratt mentioned at least 70 Texas municipalities have adopted local ordinances banning synthetic substances.

City Council is also one step closer to a potential ordinance. Councilwoman Karen Gibson said she will co-sponsor an ordinance with Councilman Victor Hernandez, which she expects will be on the January 31st meeting agenda.

The Board of Health wants to hear your personal stories about synthetic drugs. You can share them anonymously by clicking here.

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