Store Targeted For Synthetic Marijuana

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday that Bob’s Cheap Smokes has been declared a public nuisance for selling synthetic marijuana.

Although shop owner Robert Grimmett said he has not received word, DeWine said the store – located east of St. Clairsville along National Road across from the St. Clair Lanes bowling alley – will have to cease operations until October.

“We definitely view this ruling as a victory in the fight against synthetic drugs,” said DeWine. “Business owners need to know that if they are found selling these dangerous products, it will hurt their bottom line.”

The business was still open Tuesday, but DeWine spokeswoman Jill Del Greco said the order should work its way through the court system by the end of this week.

Grimmett said Tuesday he was unaware of any ruling in the matter and would continue to operate until he is ordered to stop.

“This matter is still being resolved in court,” Grimmett said.

DeWine’s Office filed a nuisance abatement action against the business in March after a joint investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Belmont County Sheriff’s Department uncovered the sale of synthetic drugs at that location. According to DeWine, the shop was selling products labeled “potpourri” that contained illegal, synthetic compounds that, when consumed, mimic the psychoactive and physiological effects of marijuana.

According to court documents, an undercover agent entered Bob’s Cheap Smokes on March 1 to see if he could purchase synthetic narcotics.

The agent purchased one product known as “Mr. Happy” and another called “Beast” for a total of $47.50. These products, the court found, contained substances that simulated the effects of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

In a separate case, DeWine’s office filed a civil lawsuit against the owners of Fred’s Party Centers Inc., which operates two other Belmont County businesses accused of selling synthetic drugs. DeWine said officers with the Belmont County Drug Task Force purchased the substances at the Martins Ferry Party Center and at the Bridgeport Party Center in February.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants engaged in unfair, deceptive and unconscionable acts by selling illegal drugs as legal products.