CLARKSVILLE, IN (WAVE) - A dangerous drug is being sold right out in the open right in the heart of Kentuckiana. The WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department went undercover to expose how one local business is getting away with it and why police have not been able to stop it.
Business is booming at one of southern Indiana's hottest new locations, but no one wants to talk about what is on the menu.
Police said what they are buying inside Monroe's in Clarksville is synthetic marijuana. Its street name is spice. Spice is a shredded, dried plant sprayed with chemicals that produces a mind altering high.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse said people who smoke spice often feel psychotic effects. The effects include extreme anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations that have been linked to illness and death.
Spice is illegal in Indiana, but Troubleshooter Eric Flack discovered it is being sold right out in the open at Monroe's. Hidden camera video caught a seemingly revolving door as streams of customers come and go. Parents and professionals. Young and old.
"I've seen it busier than Kroger right next door," said Cpl. Tony Lehman of the Clarksville Police Department.
A WAVE 3 Troubleshooter producer went in undercover with a hidden camera to get a look at what was going on inside. The video shows there is nothing in the store but a pool table, a coke machine, a display case of glass pipes, and a man behind a counter who chose his words carefully.
"What you trying to get?" the man asked our undercover producer. She told him she was looking for spice.
"We don't sell spice baby," he said. "We got some incense."
Although he referred to what he was selling as incense, his intent seemed clear when we asked him about the range of prices.
"Depends on how strong you want your incense," the man told our undercover producer.
The undercover producer ended up buying something called Triple-X. It cost about $10 and was labeled "not for human consumption", but it looked exactly like the synthetic marijuana linked to all those dangerous side effects.
The guy who gave our producer the Triple-X would not come out and talk to Troubleshooter Eric Flack when he returned to Monroe's to get an explanation about what they were selling.
"Cut that (expletive) camera off man," he said.
The Clarksville Police Department has been investigating the store for months but thus far have been unable to make any arrests.
"It's extremely frustrating," Cpl. Lehman said. "It's just horrible for the community, it's horrible for the kids and people who smoke this stuff, and its so frustrating that we can't do anything about it."
The Troubleshooter Department discovered the reason police can not do anything about it. Technology used by Indiana State Police can not keep up with the problem.
State Representative Milo Smith, who wrote Indiana's spice law, said ISP's lab equipment is not advanced enough to identify the newer, altered compounds of synthetic marijuana, which can be just a few molecules different from the original. Police said they can not press charges until tests confirm the presence of those banned chemical compounds.
Representative Smith said state police have not given up. He said ISP is now searching for private labs with equipment capable of proving what is being sold at Monroe's is illegal so they can stop it from being sold on the open market.
In the midst of the Troubleshooter investigation, Monroe's was the scene of a violent confrontation with a man who allegedly tried to break into the store and steal the synthetic marijuana.
Kevin Martin is now facing a list of charges that includes resisting arrest and burglary after he fought with officers who caught him trying to rob Monroe's. Witnesses saw Martin throw a rock through the front door and called police. When officers arrived they said Martin fought with them and tried to escape before he was finally handcuffed and taken into custody.
The Indiana Attorney General's office is aware of growing spice problem in the area and is trying to step up enforcement and is threatening to seize the assets of businesses caught selling spice if they don not sign an affidavit to stop.