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            CONCORD – Heath Palmer, 39, of Manchester, was sentenced in federal court to 12 months and 1 day of imprisonment for possessing an unlawful synthetic cannabinoid product with intent to distribute, United States Attorney Scott W. Murray announced today.

            According to statements made in court, on April 18, 2019, Palmer was observed by police officers conducting hand-to-hand sales from a car.  The Manchester Police stopped Palmer and he voluntarily turned over the product he was selling.  Palmer claimed that the product did not contain illegal substances.  Testing by the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory confirmed, however, that the product contained an illegal substance, 5F-MDMB-PICA.

            On May 7, 2019, Palmer was informed by the Manchester Police that the substance he was selling was in fact illegal under federal law.  Three days later, the Manchester Police observed Palmer continuing to make hand-to-hand sales from a car.  The police stopped the car and seized the product that Palmer was selling.  The product was again tested, and it contained the same illegal substance, 5F-MDMB-PICA. 

            Palmer previously pleaded guilty on October 10, 2019.

            According to the DEA, synthetic cannabinoids, which commonly are referred to by names such as “Spice” or “K2,” are designer drugs that are made in laboratories.  The chemicals often are sprayed onto plant substances and then smoked in order to obtain a high.  These substances have severe adverse effects and have often led to overdoses.  In addition to the dangers associated with the chemical substances themselves, the lack of manufacturing standards may lead to increased health risks. 

            The DEA issued a regulation on April 16, 2019, that made 5F-MDMB-PICA and several other synthetic cannabinoids Schedule I controlled substances.  In its order, the DEA noted that this drug had been associated with over 47 overdoses in Connecticut and at least 244 overdoses in Washington, D.C.  Further information is available at https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/rules/2019/fr0416.htm and https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com/files/publications/DoA_2017Ed_Updated_6.16.17.pdf#page=88.

            “Synthetic cannabinoids are extremely dangerous substances that can cause great physical harm,” said U.S. Attorney Murray.  “Those who refer to these dangerous drugs as synthetic marijuana help to create confusion that can mislead users about the real hazards associated with these substances.  Those who distribute synthetic cannabinoids are endangering public health and safety and breaking federal law.  As this case shows, we will not hesitate to prosecute and incarcerate those who are profiting from selling these dangerous drugs.”

            “There is a misconception that synthetic cannabinoids, known on the street as synthetic marijuana, K2, and Spice, are safe.  Synthetic cannabinoids are anything but safe,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle.  “They are a toxic cocktail of lethal chemicals with serious health and safety risks. This investigation represents local, state and federal law enforcement’s efforts to combat this public threat.”

            “I’m very pleased that we were able to see Palmer prosecuted,” says Manchester Chief Carlo Capano. “His repeated behavior involving the sales of ‘Spice’ will not be tolerated in the city.  The Manchester Police Department has been dealing with ‘Spice’ for some time now and these cases can be very difficult. I’d like to acknowledge the outstanding job our investigators did in putting this together.”

            The case was investigated by the Manchester Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth R. Aframe.

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