SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. --- Smoke 911 sells tobacco and novelties and pricey packets of Hayze, described as a "potpourri blend, not for human consumption."
11Alive photographer John Kirtley purchased the packet-- which GBI investigators say fits the description of the commercial packaging for synthetic marijuana. The store manager declined comment.
"As soon as I said the word 'synthetic,' I'm pretty sure (the cashier) knew what I wanted," Kirtley said. The store "was actually quite busy... a lot of (customers) were buying things in these little packets."
Investigators say the odds are pretty good that the contents of "Hayze" are perfectly legal under Georgia law, despite ongoing efforts to keep synthetic marijuana illegal.
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This year, the legislature updated its controlled substance laws to include new varieties of synthetic marijuana. In fact, it has done so several years in a row. Yet every year, synthetic marijuana makes a comeback-- because, investigators say, the chemists behind it manage to stay a step or two ahead of the law.
"They have come up with a completely different structure that doesn't look like anything that's currently controlled in the current law," said Nelly Miles, chemistry manager of the GBI Crime Lab.
Researchers at the Crime Lab say they are constantly updating their synthetic marijuana database, adding new varieties cooked up to steer clear of Georgia's controlled substance act.
"When we're talking about synthetic marijuana, we're talking about hundreds upon hundreds of variations," Miles said. These variations lead to a years-long cat-and-mouse game between chemistry and the law, and another update is likely in next year's legislative session.