Merchants speak out on Spice arrests
Two smoke shop owners discuss impact of illegal substance
Lost sales and a negative perception are results several area smoke shops have experienced because of the recent crackdown on the synthetic marijuana known as Spice.
Two shop owners -- Jack Roth of The Smoking Gift on West Colorado Avenue, and Sam Issam of the Hookah King on Bijou Street downtown -- said they used to sell Spice but stopped after it became illegal.
Roth said Spice's change in legal status hasn't eliminated the demand for it.
"I probably get three or four phone calls a day, and four or five people walking in to ask for it, still looking for Spice, yep," he said.
Roth and Issam agree that continuing to sell Spice illegally -- as several shops are accused of doing -- isn't worth the risk of losing their businesses.
"We have to find something else," said Issam. "Anything legal and good for humans. No bad stuff. I don't want to put myself in a bad situation."
Roth said natural herbs are an option to Spice but aren't as strong.
"I have some samples for my customers," he said. "Other than that, I don't sell them. No one likes them. There's also a fortified tobacco."
Roth and Issam said they've lost sales since Spice became illegal, from customers who want it or are skeptical about the safety of other products in the stores. However, Roth said he's doing fine selling tobacco and related products, while Issam said he won't sell anything that might become illegal in the future.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has released a two-page flyer about Spice and its dangers. To see the flyer, visit http://bit.ly/synmjCO
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