LAKELAND – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is blaming the drug K-2, a synthetic form of marijuana, for causing a 16-year-old girl to collapse at her school and require hospitalization, while the student who purchased the drug has been arrested.
Detectives said the drug, which is often sold as incense at convenience stores, was bought at a shop in Plant City, outside the jurisdiction of Polk County law enforcement.
The incident happened on Friday, when detectives from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call from Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland, after learning that a 16-year-old girl had smoked K-2 in the school’s parking lot, then collapsed and became incoherent.
She was transported to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where she was treated and eventually released.
During their investigation at the school, detectives learned that 18-year-old Andrew L. Ishman of 1544 Yeomans Path in Lakeland, also a Lake Gibson High student, had purchased the K-2 from a store in Hillsborough County, then sold it to a 15-year-old student who also attends Lake Gibson.
The juvenile who purchased the drug from Ishman, along with 18-year-old Dmitria A. Grasso-Morey of 875 Hyde Park Boulevard in Lakeland, met with four other students in the school parking lot, detectives said. According to the arrest report, the students got into Grasso-Morey’s car and smoked the K-2.
“After smoking the drug, the students left the parking lot and walked to the building,” noted Donna C. Wood, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in her report on the case. “It was at that time the female student became ill and collapsed onto the ground.”
The other four students, all minors, now various criminal charges, including a 15-year-old male charged with possession and sharing a counterfeit controlled substance; a 14-year-old male charged with manufacturing drug paraphernalia; and two 15-year-old males and a 16-year-old female charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
Ishaman was charged as an adult with the sale of a counterfeit controlled substance and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, while Grasso-Morey was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia. Both Ishman and Grasso-Morey were booked in the Polk County Jail.
Cracking down on the sale of K-2 has been a crusade for Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd for the past two years. Often sold in convenience stores and head shops under brand names like K-2 and Spice, Judd has long claimed that’s a cover for what is essentially a “fake pot,” or imitation marijuana. Buyers use it to get high, Judd has warned, even though synthetic pot has been known to cause a variety of illnesses, including severe nausea, headaches and vomiting.
In October 2010, Judd held a press conference to announce that he was cracking down on convenience stores throughout Polk County that market the product. The Polk County State Attorney’s office had agreed to press charges under a Florida statute prohibiting “imitation controlled substances.” It targets the sellers, distributors and manufacturers of products that “by express or implied representations, purport to act like” an illegal substance. The charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, although the law doesn’t ban mere possession.
On Friday, Judd said he would not be able to filed charges against the convenience store where this K-2 was purchased, since it’s not in Polk County.
“The K-2 was purchased in Hillsborough County, not Polk,” Judd said. “Store owners in Polk know if K-2 is found on their shelves, they will go to jail.”
However, Polk County detectives did notify their counterparts at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office about the K-2 being sold at the Mobile store, and met them at the shop at 501 N. County Line Road in Plant City to speak with the manager there.
“The acting manager at the Plant City store, Frank Sunnis, was advised of the incident,” Wood noted. “Sunnis told detectives he would no longer sell K-2.”
Sunnis provided detectives with the name of the store’s manager, Madani Labidi, who was advised of the teenage girl’s reaction to the K-2 purchased at his store.
The investigation into this case, Wood added, is on-going.
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