The owner of a Pelham, NH, store has been charged with selling synthetic marijuana, also known as spice.
Pelham police arrested Christopher Matte, 43, of Hudson, NH, Friday on charges of felony sale of drugs at his Bridge Street store, Ace Discount Cigarettes, according to a press release.
The arrest ended a six-month investigation into the sale of synthetic marijuana within the town of Pelham, conducted by The Pelham Police Department’s Criminal Bureau and New Hampshire State Police Narcotics Investigation Unit. There has been a rash of synthetic marijuana overdoses throughout the state of New Hampshire recently, leading to a State of Emergency being declared by Governor Maggie Hassan.
Police report that in this investigation, detectives allegedly used an undercover officer to make several purchases of the substance directly from Matte.
Pelham detectives and troopers from the New Hampshire State Police Narcotics Investigation Unit recovered approximately $7,000 in cash along with over 100 individual bags of synthetic marijuana, which was being sold for $19.99 per bag. Detectives had asked Matte to halt sales of the substance several months ago, due to the amount of issues area users were having after ingestion, but Matte allegedly continued selling the product.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that some synthetic marijuana users experience some effects of marijuana, such as “elevated mood and relaxation,” but sometimes they experience stronger effects like “extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.” Users who are taken to Poison Control Centers typically report symptoms varying from vomiting and agitation to confusion and hallucinations.
New Hampshire is one of the few remaining states without an explicit ban on synthetic cannabinoids, but the state’s officials are reportedly studying how to create an outright ban. The US Drug Enforcement Administration classified many of the active ingredients in synthetic marijuana as controlled substances in 2011, but the drugs’ chemical compounds change regularly as producers seek to evade regulation.
Matte was booked at the Pelham Police Department and later bailed on $10,000 personal recognizance bail. He has a court date of September 22 at Salem District Court.
Police report that further arrests of Ace Discount employees are expected in regards to the sale of synthetic marijuana.