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Store operator faces drug charge

BY DICK HAMMERSTROM

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

The owner of a Fredericksburg convenience store–gas station has been charged with sale and distribution of synthetic marijuana.

Hong Suk Kim, 45, who owns a Sunoco station at 201 Jefferson Davis Highway, was charged by city narcotics officers in July, according to Natatia Bledsoe, city police information officer.

City police, along with state police agents, executed a search warrant July 24 on the store, which is located on the city side of the Falmouth Bridge.

Bledsoe said a “large quantity” of the synthetic marijuana, popularly known as Spice, was found under a counter and in a cabinet in an office.

Authorities began an investigation after receiving complaints that Spice was being sold at the store, Bledsoe said.

Kim, who lives in Stafford County, was taken to the Rappahannock Regional Jail, and he was released on $2,500 bond.

A preliminary hearing on the felony charge is scheduled for Sept. 20 in Fredericksburg General District Court.

Synthetic marijuana emerged legally about three years ago in the form of an herbal incense in the U.S. and was sold openly over the counters of convenience and tobacco shops.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency banned it in 2010, claiming its use led to an increase in emergency-room visits by patients suffering from a range of adverse reactions, including seizures, vomiting, hallucinations and paranoid behavior.

In Virginia, a bill introduced by former State Sen. Edd Houck of Spotsylvania was passed, making the sale of it a crime.

Additional chemicals were added to the statute earlier this year. The sale of Spice is a class 6 felony, meaning it is punishable by a prison term of between one and five years and a fine of up to $2,500.

Dick Hammerstrom: 540/374-5414

rhammerstrom@freelancestar.com

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