Hattiesburg man on trial for selling synthetic cannabis

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A Hattiesburg businessman is on trial for the sale of synthetic cannabis, also known as Spice.

Dennis Hutchins, owner of Hub City Clothing on Mobile Street, was arrested in December 2010 for the sale of the substance which was banned in Mississippi in September of 2010.

The arrest stemmed from a sting operation where a confidential informant was used. The informant was wired with a camera and a microphone and then was sent into the establishment to make a purchase of the banned substance. Two days later a warrant was served at the store and more of the banned substance was found and an arrest was made.

For his cooperation the informant had misdemeanor DUI and possession of spice charges dismissed against him. A similar possession charge against his girl friend was also dropped.

In opening statements the defense argued that the product was purchased legally from a wholesale company in Louisiana and was intended to be used as a potpourri and not a narcotic.

Both the prosecution and defense wrapped up testimony Tuesday afternoon. Closing arguments are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Under Mississippi law anyone caught in Mississippi selling, possessing, using, transporting or distributing synthetic cannabis could face felony charges similar to those associated with marijuana.

The brand of synthetic cannabis sold under the name Spice contains a number of plants, herbs and chemicals, one of which is a lab-created version of the active ingredient in marijuana which was developed by Pfizer in the 1980s.

Synthetic cannabis is legal in 42 states.

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