City suspends tobacco licenses to fight synthetic drug sales

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City is using an economic tool to fight the sale of synthetic, smokeable drugs: suspending profitable tobacco licenses at area businesses caught selling the banned products.

On Thursday, the city announced it had slapped two BP stations with month-long suspensions of their tobacco licenses after undercover investigators were able to purchase "King Kong" incense from clerks.

King Kong is the latest product marketed as incense that some popularly bought to be rolled and smoked like marijuana, producing a cheap but dangerous high.

Gerald Countz works for the city's Regulated Industries division, which works with law enforcement to halt the sale of products like King Kong, or K2. He said some small gas stations will sell packets of the substance for $25 to $30.

"We've had a couple of occasions where investigators have gone out and come back and said "I'm out of money. Here are all the drugs, I'm out of money," Countz said.

Reports detail how undercover investigators purchased packets of King Kong from skittish clerks, who occasionally checked to make sure their stores were empty before handing over the product.

Countz said his investigators work dovetails with state and federal efforts to crack down on suppliers and distributors of synthetic drugs.

The National Association of Convenience Stores told 41 Action News that cigarette sales make up 36 percent of store revenue on average, giving the city's punishment real economic punch.

Tobacco license suspensions for the BP stations on the corner of Blue Ridge Cutoff and I-70 and Paseo and Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard go into effect on December 2.

Got a story tip? Garrett Haake can be reached at garrett.haake@kshb.com . You can also follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Facebook.

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