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SOUTH SALT LAKE -- Police here went to all of the city's smoke shops Wednesday to educate owners about Utah's new Spice law, and seize any packages of the synthetic drug they could find.
Two weeks ago, Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill outlawing the sale of Spice, also known as synthetic marijuana, and bath salts such as Ivory Wave, used illegally as a kind of synthetic methamphetamine.
On Wednesday, South Salt Lake officers went to all 37 establishments in their city that had tobacco licenses. Detective Gary Keller said the main goal was to educate business owners and pass out literature concerning the state's new law.
But if officers saw Spice or bath salts in plain sight, they seized them, Salt Lake police officer Gary Keller said. He said shop owners were very cooperative.
At Raymond Abbas' "Smoker's Point" shop on 3300 South police seized what Abbas estimated was about $2,000 of Spice and Salvia.
"I did know about the law," said Abbas. "I had all the Spice in the back. We weren't selling it," he said.
But Abbas said he's still confused about what else the law bans, calling it vague when it comes to other substances. He said they'll probably just move to selling cigarettes and cigars.
No citations or arrests were made on Wednesday.
"We did it just as a benefit to business owners. We want to maintain a good working relationship," Keller said. "There's probably a lot of people out there that don't realize that what was legal is now illegal,"
Abbas would agree. He said people go into the shop every day asking for Spice. "It's about 70 percent of our business," he said.
Spice has been sold as incense, but can be smoked like marijuana to produce a similar high.
HB23 passed through the Legislature in late February and was signed into law by Gov. Herbert.
Under Utah's new law, possession of Spice is a class B misdemeanor. Distribution of Spice is a third-degree felony on a first arrest, however, and a second-degree felony on subsequent arrests.