Shop owners are raking in outlandish profits on synthetic marijuana, marking up the product as much as 500 percent, said Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow.
And that's why at least some merchants plan to continue carrying it despite a law that makes its sale a felony starting Jan. 1.
During a Tuesday press conference at Shorewood Village Hall, Glasgow — who was joined by state Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, Will County Executive Larry Walsh and a veritable army of Will County police chiefs — told of the reluctance to stop selling supposedly dangerous, and soon to be illegal, drugs.
The state's attorney said he learned of this lack of cooperation from Crest Hill Alderman Charles Convery, who visited stores in his city to alert them to the new law banning synthetic marijuana.
"They told him no, they're not pulling it off (the shelves) because the profit's too good," Glasgow said.
"We're going to have to force them, by passing this legislation," Glasgow said. "The message is: Get this stuff off your shelves!"
Marketed as incense and currently legal for anyone of any age to buy, synthetic marijuana poses great health risks, Glasgow said.
"It's not a case of getting the munchies," he said. "You get psychotic. You get edgy."
And while most of the products are clearly marked that they are not for human consumption, shop owners are all too quick to instruct customers on how to consume them and to point out which ones are the most effective, said Dave Margliano, a retired investigator and police sergeant.
"They tell you how to smoke it," Margliano said. "They tell you which ones to buy for a different kind of high."
Margliano found this out after going undercover and checking out numerous tobacco shops.
"He put on his American flag bandanna, let his beard grow, got on his Harley and visited some of these stores," Glasgow said.
And the more intoxicated Margliano pretended to be, Glasgow said, the more aggressive shop owners got in their attempts to sell synthetic marijuana.
Glasgow researched and drafted the law and it was sponsored by Cross, who lauded the bipartisan effort in Will County to push the legislation through.
The law makes both the possession and sale of synthetic marijuana a felony. The penalty for selling more than 200 grams of the product can range as high as 30 years in prison with a $500,000 fine.
Shorewood Police Chief Aaron Klima, whom Glasgow said is on the "cutting edge" of synthetic marijuana enforcement, said he was pleased with the state law.
In Crest Hill, where Convery ran into uncooperative shop owners, Police Chief Dwayne Wilkerson said his department will be laying down the law in the new year.
"We've sent out letters to echo Mr. Glasgow's warning," Wilkerson said. "We'll be out the first of January to enforce this with both undercover and uniformed officers."