No so-called bath salts or synthetic cannabinoids were found in Boardwalk stores during an undercover sweep leading up to today’s “Summer Safe” announcement in Atlantic City, officials said.
“Our initial undercover effort, begun earlier this month, has made it clear that shopkeepers along the Boardwalk have received the message loud and clear,” said Eric T. Kanefsky, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “Anyone seeking to sell these drugs can no longer claim ignorance about their harmful nature, or about the criminal penalties associated with possessing or selling them.”
Safe Summer 2012 will come to the city’s wooden walkway today, with state inspectors making sure stores are complying with various laws that protect consumers and that make sure games of chance give a fair chance to those playing them. But before that, state investigators along with the Atlantic City Police Department went undercover to see whether the drugs that were found last year were still being sold.
While some suspected drugs were found at businesses off of the Boardwalk and are being tested, none was found on the well-known tourist attraction. Officials stress that doesn’t mean it’s gone, but it does show shopkeepers at least know the drugs are now banned, on par with their better-known counterparts that include heroin. Similar results were found last month in Seaside Heights.
“The initial findings of our undercover initiative are very positive,” Kanefsky said. “It had become clear that, along the Atlantic City Boardwalk just as much as along the Seaside Heights Boardwalk, the retailers who once sold or were suspected of selling those drugs are now fully aware that they are as illegal as heroin or cocaine.
Last summer’s initiative — which didn’t make it to Atlantic City due to Hurricane Irene — targeted the manmade marijuana, which had only recently become illegal. At that time, the sweep was more of a warning to businesses and allowed them to voluntarily turn over the drugs — commonly sold as K2, K3 or Spice.
The drug is an herbal mixture treated with a chemical. At that time, just five substances were banned, but in March, New Jersey became only the fourth state to criminalize all variations of the chemical. Last year, the state also banned powders sold as “bath salts” or “plant food,” which are snorted, injected or smoked for a high similar to cocaine.
While the drug search has garnered much of the focus, a big part of the Safe Summer initiative is to insure that consumers are not cheated when they come to the shore for vacation. That includes a check list for games of chance, such as making sure the claw in the popular prize-fishing game is strong enough to lift the prizes inside or that a basketball game has everything set up correctly to allow the ball to go into the hoop.
There will also be inspections to make sure there is compliance with regulations including the Consumer Fraud Act, and Weights and Measures. Evne toys will be tested to make sure there isn’t too much lead to make them dangerous to children.
Today’s inspection might be the most visual, but will not be the only time investigators will be in the area. They make undercover visits to keep tabs on shore businesses.
Atlantic City will get a little extra help. Boardwalk Ambassadors will now be trained to help with enforcement and education of businesses. The ambassadors mix hospitality with neighborhood watch as part of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority's "clean and safe" plan.
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