The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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State, national news

November 3, 2013

Duluth police see drop in synthetic drug use

DULUTH — Police in Duluth say they’ve seen a more than 65 percent drop in synthetic drug use in the three months since a head shop that sold the products was shut down.

Police had 495 calls involving synthetics in the 105 days before Last Place on Earth closed in July, The Duluth News Tribune reported Sunday. In the same number of days after the store closed, the number of calls involving synthetics was 160. Store owner Jim Carlson was convicted on 51 charges in early October, including dealing in misbranded drugs. He’s seeking a new trial.

Lt. Eric Rish said the “availability and price” offered at Carlson’s store made synthetic drug use mushroom. While it still happens, Rish said, the events of the past few months have cut into synthetics’ impact. Awareness about the dangers of synthetics also has helped.

Police said calls about drunken behavior spiked in the area near the store, but noted those drunken disturbances are easier to handle. Duluth Deputy Police Chief Mike Tusken said disturbances related to synthetics use are “more pronounced and disturbing.”

Chris Delp, an emergency room doctor at St. Luke’s Hospital, also said he’s seen a “huge decrease” in the number of screaming, agitated and psychotic patients, almost from the day Last Place on Earth was closed.

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