BOISE -- More teens in Idaho are said to be using Spice to get high. Spice is incense that's being smoked by some people against the advice of manufacturers who list not for human consumption on packaging.
On Thursday, the Canyon County prosecutor said the side effects of Spice can be worse than marijuana, and he's vowed to prosecute teens who smoke it by classifying Spice as an inhalant.
The product can be found in most tobacco stores. But how easy is it for minors to buy? And, how are sellers monitoring who's buying it? Are they responsible for what people do with it? KTVB investigated on Friday night to find out how stores are selling and marketing Spice.
Store owner keeps minors out, discourages misuse of Spice
Herb Incense opened about two months ago in Boise and sells Spice.
We sell all sorts of different aromatic potpourri and incense from all over the world that people like and come and buy, Owner mark Ciccarello said.
Even though Spice is legal to buy and sell in Idaho and has no restrictions, Ciccarello has set a lot of his own rules. First, he requires customers be at least 18 years old and requires identification.
For my incense specifically just because a lot of underage kids take things and misuse them, I require to be at least 18 years of age to purchase my products, Ciccarello said.
He also said he won't sell to anyone who implies they'll use Spice in any way besides incense burned for aromatherapy.
The signs I have in the store itself actually talk about if you talk about it illicitly, meaning unlawfully using it, I'm not going to sell it to you. That if you do ingest it, it could be harmful for your health, Ciccarello said.
Ciccarello said he knows of around 160 retailers that sell Spice in the Treasure Valley. He also said they aren't all as proactive as he is against unintended use.
An undercover look at Spice stores
KTVB looked online for stores that sell Spice in Boise and randomly picked three to check out. Our photographer went in undercover and asked about Spice. He then asked clerks how you're supposed to use it.
Clerks at two of the stores said they didn't know how to use Spice.
I have no idea. Nobody here burns it. We're just working here, one clerk responded.
A clerk at a third store told our photographer you could use Spice by smoking it. KTVB later returned to the store and asked about the employee's suggestion. A different clerk was working and when asked about another employee suggesting our photographer use the Spice by smoking it, he said Spice is not for smoking and not for human consumption.
All three stores required our photographer to show identification proving he was 18 years old.
'When they leave the facility, I can't control what they do'
As for Herb Incense, Ciccarello says his only intent is to run a business and be vigilant with his rules at his store.
I sell it for the proper use of it, so outside of that, when they leave the facility, I can't control what they do, Ciccarello said. I can only control what I can control inside my four wall facility where I sell it.
Ciccarello also adds there are plenty of legal products on the market that people use improperly, and he feels his business is just the same.
It gets a bad name because people misuse it, but it doesn't mean they should stop selling it, Ciccarello said. I mean, do people stop selling superglue or any of the other things that people can misuse also because they could use it in an unintended way? Absolutely not. So, I have a very legit product, a legit business, I pay my taxes and I want to keep feeding my family.
Prosecuting shops that sell to minors could be forthcoming
Again, Spice is legal in Idaho, and technically anyone can buy it, though at least one prosecutor in Canyon County intends to prosecute those who sell to minors. He's classifying Spice as an inhalant, which is illegal for minors to use or possess and illegal for adults to provide or sell to minors.
All four stores KTVB went to Friday chose to set their own rules, they sell only to customers over 18-years-old.
The Canyon County sheriff said the department will assist in the crackdown of spice. KTVB asked Sheriff Chris Smith if his deputies will also go after stores that sell spice to minors. He said that probably won't happen right now because of how new this type of enforcement is. Smith says he wants to see how things first pan out in the courts.