Boone County officials cracking down on synthetic drugs

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Boone County officials are winning the fight against synthetic drugs after changes in the laws updating what's legal and illegal.

Deputies and prosecutors are seeing fewer cases involving bath salts. The Boone County Sheriff's Department and court officials agree there is a significant decrease not only in the courts, but in the stores where the drug was once prevalent.

However, both departments remain cautious.

They tell ABC 17 News new drugs could pop up on the street any day.

Stopping by stores that have been known to sell synthetic drugs, no illegal drugs were seen in the store.

"That is a great example of things that we saw a year ago and we are not seeing anymore," said Stephanie Morrell, assistant Boone County prosecuting attorney.

"I think we have seen a decline in its use," said Detective Tom O'Sullivan with the Boone County Sheriff's Department. "We aren't encountering as many people as we once were that were under the influence of bath salts or synthetic marijuana."

The new federal law makes selling synthetic drugs as serious an offense as selling cocaine.

"Over the last year, we have been seeing smaller numbers in that regard," said  Morrell.

Just this year, the Boone County Sheriff's Department made nearly 130 drug arrests, which include the synthetic drugs.

"I hope this new law is expansive enough that it's going to be very difficult to put similar types of products out there on the market, but we will wait and see," O'Sullivan said.

But the law has made one clear change -- it's taken many synthetic drugs off Columbia streets.

Bath salts and fake marijuana or K2 can be dangerous.

Nearly five months ago, a teen nearly died after using synthetic drugs.

The new law took effect in mid-June.

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