The clock is ticking as smoke shops across Lubbock are preparing to take synthetic marijuana off their shelves. Beginning Saturday, it will be illegal to use, purchase, sell or distribute synthetic drugs here in Lubbock.
Most Lubbock head shops are removing products from their shelves, but Nothin' Butt Smokes Vice President Shon Ross says they will keep selling products such as "Comfortably Numb," "Texas Twist" and "Baraboo Shotz."
Ross says "We're not going to have any of the products that fall within that ban. We try to make sure we stay ahead of the curve, for the protection of ourselves as well as the protection of our consumer. So all of the products that we have are lab tested, they're verified and they're completely legal."
Mayor Pro Tem Karen Gibson disagrees.
"Those are ones that fall within that ban. Absolutely," Gibson said.
Gibson says although she cannot stop Ross from selling these products, it does not mean that what he is doing is right.
"You kind of wonder why he's selling potpourri at a smoke shop. And why in the world he would have it right next to pipes or papers or paraphernalia to smoke it with. Drug dealers will tell you they're not selling drugs," Gibson said.
Gina Johnson, the Lubbock mother who began the fight, wrote in an email in response to Ross' decision, "This is a prime example of drug dealers staying ahead of the laws. It shows how the owner of this store puts profits ahead of lives and a complete lack or morality and civic responsibility."
Ross says he understands Johnson's passion because he is a parent himself. Yet at the same time, Ross says parents need to take on the responsibility of educating their children.
"I don't want the government to raise my children, that's my job, and I want to make sure that we as parents take on that responsibility and that accountability and we do everything we can to protect our children," Ross said.
Ross says the products that they have at their stores are no different from grocery stores selling alcohol to their customers.
"I'd be foolish to think that 100 percent of them are using it the way that they should use it. Just like a restaurant, bar, or grocery store sells alcohol to its consumers assuming that they're going to drink responsibly," he said.
Ross also says there are several other products that can be harmful if used improperly.
"If they misuse any product, whether it be house cleaner or any other computer cleaner, there's a lot of products that can be harmful to children especially that don't know the side effects. It's important that, as a parent myself, that we educate our children."
"Whether it is drinking and driving, texting and driving, any of those causes that can help protect our children, I'm for. I'm a parent. I just want to make sure that everyone understands that as parents, we need to take on that responsibility," he said.
Ross is lawyer himself and says he is well aware of city, state and federal laws.
However, Gibson says that's not going to stop her.
"Just because I have a smoke shop owner saying I'm not giving in to you doesn't mean I'm going to give in to him either," she said. "I have a whole team of lawyers right across that hall that are advising me every day on it. That doesn't intimidate me either."
Starting Saturday, it'll be considered a Class C misdemeanor to sell, distribute, purchase or use synthetic drugs here in Lubbock.
Businesses could be fined up to a $2,000 if found guilty and individuals could be fined $500.
Gibson says it is out of her hands and is now between Ross and the police.
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