Montville - Convenience stores across the state must start clearing their shelves of all synthetic marijuana products, "bath salts" party drugs and a psychedelic known as salvia, or face potential criminal charges and the loss of their lottery sales or store licenses.
Those are the new rules as defined by state Department of Consumer Protection regulations that took effect March 29 and become enforceable later this month. The regulations ban the sale and possession of the three categories of drugs, including the popular K2 and Spice brands of synthetic marijuana.
"The long-awaited regulations are in place," state Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, said Tuesday at a news conference at the 7-Eleven on Route 32. Stillman sponsored the legislation that last year had initiated the ban.
She, along with state Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, and Montville Mayor Ron McDaniel, chose the 7-Eleven to make their announcement because its owner, Fayaz Khan, has long refused to stock synthetic marijuana or similar items to keep the substances away from young people.
"It's a family business and my relatives work here and I know the consequences of those things," said Khan, who also owns the New London 7-Eleven on Broad Street. "Although it's a big market on these things, I don't think it's worth it."
Stillman said that with these new regulations, Connecticut joins 38 other states that have banned one or more of the three drugs. The new regulations classify the drugs as Schedule 1 controlled substances that can't be sold or possessed.
The use of synthetic pot and "bath salts," sometimes known as "meow meow," has been linked to deaths involving teens and young adults.
Michele Devine, executive director of the Southeastern Regional Action Council, said she knows of anecdotal reports of people rushing to local hospitals after ingesting such drugs.
The drugs are currently illegal on a federal level under a temporary ruling by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
In January, the Coast Guard Academy expelled 14 cadets caught using Spice, a form of synthetic marijuana.
Stillman praised the efforts of 22 New London High School students, who last week visited more than a dozen city convenience stores and gas stations to implore the owners to stop selling synthetic marijuana, bongs and small glass crack cocaine pipes.
"I really want to thank the New London school system and those students for stepping forward and setting an example," she said.