KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department and prosecutors in the Northland have announced a new operation targeting the sale of illegal vape cartridges containing THC at businesses in the area.
The operation has been named "Operation Delta-Free Youth," and the goal is to remove the THC vape cartridges from store shelves, according to a release from Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd.
The release said the products they are targeting are often marketed as containing Delta-8 THC, and 18 locations in the Northland are the current targets.
"Undercover officers with the police department’s Vice Unit bought vape cartridges advertised as containing THC at each location," the release said. "The contents of each cartridge tested positive for THC."
Prosecutors in the Northland, including Zahnd and Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Dan White, sent cease and desist letters to each of the 18 locations on April 18 to demand that sales stop and the products be removed. The letters warned of criminal penalties if the stores choose not to comply, but Zahnd and White said they hope the businesses will voluntarily remove the products.
The release said talked about the legality of the THC products due to the legalization of medical marijuana in the state, but state statutes make "THC or synthetic substances similar in structure to THC illegal to possess or sell in Missouri."
“There is a common misperception that these THC products might somehow be legal in Missouri. We’re making it clear: THC vaping products are illegal," Zahnd said. "They must be immediately removed from store shelves in Clay and Platte Counties. We hope every business selling these products will stop, and we’ll never file a criminal case against anyone.”
The release thanked the Northland Coalition, a group that promotes drug use prevention in schools in the Northland, for their urging to take action against the THC products.
Tri-County Mental Health Services Manager of Prevention and Wellness Vicky Ward said that teens are especially at risk for addiction to vaping products because their brains are not fully developed.
“This is really about protecting kids. Too many of these illegal THC products wind up in the hands of teenagers," White said. "And dozens of scientific studies show that THC is dangerous and detrimental for adolescents.”
The cease and desist letters told the stores about the possibility of search warrants that would allow the seizure of controlled substances and other contraband.
“We’re not done yet. During our initial visits, we observed multiple sales to people who appeared to be minors without any attempt to ascertain the buyer’s age—which is another violation of the law," KCPD Vice Unit Sgt. Brad Dumit said. "We intend to visit each of the original locations to see if they’ve complied with the prosecutors’ demands, and we will also conduct covert operations in other stores soon.”
The prosecutors declined releasing the names of the locations stating that they prefer to "allow the stores to have the opportunity to remove the illegal products first."
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