In a Winchester Sun story published Nov. 18, the owner of Blue Haze was identified as Mohammad Aslam, and he told a reporter he decided to open a store in Winchester because it seemed like a nice town and did not have a shop like his, which reportedly specialized in tobacco paraphernalia and smoking accessories.
At the time, the store had signs posted on its doors saying no one under 18 could enter. On one of its shelves were several kinds of the smokable “incense,” and on a counter was a letter from Winchester Police Chief Kevin Palmer along with a copy of a statute about such products.
Aslam told a reporter he decided to carry the “incense” products so that people would hear about his store, but because of law enforcement actions, he would remove them from his shelves.
Hall said the materials are legal as packaged, but the informants went into the shop and asked specifically for something to get high on, Hall said. The workers then handed products similar to what officers confiscated, he said.
“They claim it’s potpourri and label it ‘not for human consumption,’ but I’ve never seen anything like it on the shelves of Bed Bath and Beyond,” Hall said.
Officers confiscated dozens of packages of material labeled as incense and ‘not for human consumption’ that people use to get high as an alternative to marijuana or other drugs, Hall said.
“People put it in a pipe and smoke it, or roll it,” he said. “It’s chemically-treated, so it has vastly different effects than just marijuana.”
Hall said he’s seen several people in the hospital suffering from hallucinations, seizures or other medical problems after smoking such substances.
“If they think it’s a legal and safe alternative to marijuana, it’s not safe,” he said.
Hall said police have been speaking with owners and employees at other businesses in Winchester that sell similar items, and warned them about the dangerous nature of the products. Other raids and search warrants may be forthcoming, he said.
“We are looking at other businesses in town,” Hall said. “If we can bring similar charges against them, we will. We’ve given them ample opportunity. It may be legal in the strict definition, but they walk a fine line between moral and ethical (responsibility) in the community and making a buck.”
Contact Fred Petke at firstname.lastname@example.org.