The sheriff of a rural Georgia county says his office will charge minors in possession of vaping products with crimes usually applied to illegal drugs. And the school superintendent says school officials will refer students to the authorities and press charges against them.
“I think we’re at a point in time where we have to take a very hard stance on the things that we’re seeing when it comes to vaping,” said the sheriff. “If they’re caught vaping in school, if they’re passing their vape off to somebody else to vape at school — or even not just at school, but that’s where we’re seeing most of it — that they would be charged with a…crime.”
Pickens Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson agreed, and explained that the schools would participate in criminally charging its students who were caught vaping or in possession of vaping devices.
The announcements were made during a talk to local parents at Pickens High School by Sheriff Donnie Craig and Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee. The law enforcement officials showed parents an anti-vaping presentation Sosebee has been giving to local students. Pickens County is located about 50 miles north of Atlanta. The county has a population of about 30,000, more than two-thirds of which resides in the county seat Jasper.
It is a crime in Georgia for a minor to buy or possess vaping products. The offense is a misdemeanor, and can be punished by community service and/or forced attendance at an anti-tobacco lecture.
The sheriff and D.A. referred to the use of so-called “synthetic cannabis,” which D.A. Sosebee notes is “a higher schedule than methamphetamine.” She described multiple recent incidents of students in area schools requiring hospital visits after reactions to substances they vaped. Sosebee disturbingly confuses the vaping industry and its products with the sale of illegal drugs.
Sosebee in her presentation told the audience that while executing a search warrant on a smoke shop for the illegal products, one detective inhaled “a few of the particles” that were in a canister and immediately vomited and had to be helped out of the building. Sosebee said the drug was tested and is something called “panaka” (spelling unknown), which she said is “a Schedule 1 controlled substance,” and described it as a “synthetic cannabinoid.”
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