SCRANTON – One of the eight business owners identified as a retailer of the bath salts and incense abused as synthetic methamphetamine and marijuana says he has no intention of removing them from his store until they’re deemed illegal.
JayBee’s Kingdom owner, Pat, who refused several requests to provide his last name during an interview Friday, said he has complied with orders from the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States Department of Justice to remove products including “K2” and “spice” that contain one of five cannabinoid compounds used to create synthetic drugs. “Incense isn’t banned because incense is a whole new chemical,” Pat said, claiming as many as 1,100 compounds currently exist. New packaging, Pat indicated, shows what compounds incense packages do not include, such as JWH-18, and are labeled “not for human consumption.” He believes those labels protect him as a business owner. “That’s why they put it there,” he said. Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Robert Klein said Thursday that the constant changes in product names and compounds are “duck and cover” efforts to keep the currently legal substances moving on the market. Pat sees the battle as a never-ending cycle, where law agencies chase certain compounds as new ones are being introduced. He also feels DEA has “better things to do.”
The shop maintains an identification policy, according to Pat, and will not sell to customers under age 18 without proper ID. Few questions remain after that. “When it leaves here, I’m not going to ask what they’re going to do,” he said. “If it’s legal, I’ll sell it. If it’s not legal, it’ll come down.” Pat said he doesn’t believe his customers are abusing the product. He added that he was angered by information provided by Scranton police that incorrectly identified his Main Avenue shop as the place where Ryan Foley purchased bath salts before a violent Ash Wednesday attack on a priest inside St. Ann’s Basilica. The product, he said, was purchased by Corey Robbins, Foley’s friend, as identified in criminal affidavits, who was also interviewed by police concerning the attack. Robbins and Foley allegedly used bath salts four times on March 8. Pat claims he questioned Robbins about his recent frequent visits to purchase the product. “I said, ‘Holy (expletive), Corey, again?’ He said he was buying it for friends. He didn’t look high to me.” Robbins allegedly has not returned to the shop since March 8. The shop has been open for nearly two years, and business has been “halfway decent,” Pat said. Nearly a dozen customers made purchases or browsed the shop in a 20-minute time span Friday afternoon. Pat said he plans to attend a presentation for business owners on March 22 about a proposed ban on and the dangers of the synthetic drugs. When asked what he hopes to learn, he replied, “I don’t want to learn nothing because they’re politicians.”