By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – A Chehalis firefighter has been charged with possession of synthetic marijuana after “Spice” wrappers were found in the trash in the fire station building.
Adam Myer, 42, resigned from the department last week.
The one count of possession of a controlled substance filed in Lewis County Superior Court is a class C felony.
Myer denied using the drug during work hours.
Spice is one of numerous products that were legal until about a year ago, according to Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher.
“You used to be able to buy them over the counter,” Meagher said.
According to charging documents and Chehalis police, a police detective this summer was interviewing fire department employees about suspected thefts of small amounts of cash around the department.
That investigation didn’t lead to anything, but Chief Kelvin Johnson told the detective about a garbage bag containing suspicious empty packaging which had been discovered in the bathroom of the old police department next door.
Detective Rick Silva was told Myer spent a lot of his off-duty time at the station and at one point had spent several hours in that restroom, which his co-workers thought was odd.
The residue found with the wrappers was tested at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab in Vancouver and had a chemical known as Naphthoylindole, which is now classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, according to charging documents.
Spice refers to a mixture of herbs typically sprayed with a synthetic compound similar chemically to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana; it is usually smoked, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
It is known by various labels including or K-2, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Genie and Zohai, according to the DEA.
The documents allege Myer told the detective on July 20 the packaging was his, but he had not used the substance for some time and “straightened up” after a long talk with a fellow firefighter.
Chief Kelvin Johnson was unavailable to offer comment on Myer’s employment status, but co-workers yesterday said Myer last worked on July 20 and resigned last week.
Myer confirmed that yesterday, and said he didn’t want to discuss the case.
He said he has a medical condition that forced him to give up his job.
He disputed he admitted to the detective the Spice packaging was his.
“I never knowingly bought anything illegal,” Myer said. “It was a legal product bought from a store in Chehalis.”
He said it was perhaps unwise, but not against the law as far as he knew.
Myer said that after he spoke with detective Silva the first time, stores in Chehalis were still selling the product, saying he knew of three local businesses engaged in its sale for the better part of the summer.
“If they’re going to consider something illegal, they ought to prevent the sale of it, so people don’t unwittingly buy it,” Myer said.
Chehalis Police Department Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said he isn’t aware of any businesses still selling the banned products.
It’s not something officers saw a whole lot of, although it did start to increase a little bit not long before it was banned, according to Kaut.
The Washington State Board of Pharmacy last autumn permanently banned the sale, possession and use of chemicals contained in products such as Spice, K-2, Bath Salts and others, made with either synthetic marijuana or synthetic stimulants.
An increasing number of reports from poison centers, hospitals and law enforcement prompted the DEA to control the active ingredients in synthetic marijuana beginning in March of last year. A measure signed in to federal law this summer added 26 synthetic drugs to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
Deputy Prosecutor Meagher said no merchants have been charged in Lewis County under the new law. Less than five individuals locally have been charged with possession, Meagher said.
Myer has been summonsed to appear in court on Nov. 6.
In Cowlitz County, prosecutors recently dismissed similar charges against two individuals because at the time they possessed the substances, it was not illegal yet to possess them. Read about it here