The stretch of Harry Hines Boulevard between Walnut Hill and LBJ would seem to be a smoker's paradise, packing at least three full-service smoke shops into a mile-and-a-half stretch of road. Each offers a wide array of tobacco and tobacco-smoking accessories, from cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes to grinders, water pipes and blunt rolls to enhance the nicotine-absorbtion experience.
That's all on the up-and-up. How's a retailer supposed to know their wares might one day fall into the hands of marijuana smokers? But the DEA says that least two of the stores -- EZ Way Smoke Shop and the Texas Smoke Outlet -- crossed over the line, pushing large quantities of synthetic marijuana.
The Dallas Morning News reported the EZ Way bust on Tuesday. The shop, according to court filings, had been supplying the stuff, sold as "Black Lion" and "Purefire," to a smoke shop in Paris, Texas. The operation was busted after the DEA was tipped off from a confidential source and a subsequent investigation revealed huge boxes of the stuff worth tens of thousands of dollars were regularly sold from EZ Way.
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Federal prosecutors filed charges against Nasseem Khan, the owner of the Texas Smoke Outlet, on Monday afternoon, alleging that he'd been doing much the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale.
This investigation also stemmed from a confidential source, who the DEA sent to conduct a controlled buy on March 14. The informant first approached a clerk in the store, who told him to come back in 45 minutes. When he returned, he told Khan he wanted $500 worth of spice. According to court documents, Khan then disappeared into a back room and returned with a plastic bag filled with packets of "7H Hydro" and "Bob Marley" and "Diablo." The DEA set up another controlled buy in June, coming away with a Ziploc bag full of "Mister Nice Guy Hydro."
All of those products contained the same drug, XLR-11, which was perfectly legal until the Department of Justice decided to ban them in April. And so, it seems, they're cracking down on smoke shops that are still selling the stuff, at least those on Harry Hines.
And so, the arms race continues between the stoner-chemists who keep minting new THC-like substances and law enforcement, which keeps trying to ban them. It would probably be simpler for everyone involved to just stick to real weed.