Convenience store clerk charge with selling synthetic marijuana

COVINGTON — A convenience store employee was arrested Friday after detectives with the Covington Police Department learned he had been selling synthetic marijuana from the store for several months.

Capt. Philip Bradford said the detectives learned that a man known as “Mike” was selling synthetic marijuana at the Chevron gas station on Alcovy Road.

“We used a confidential source to make purchases of that synthetic marijuana,” Bradford said, adding that purchasers of the drugs referred to it as “Scooby snacks.”

Bradford said the investigation took about two or three months, in part because the alleged drugs had to be sent to the GBI Crime Lab for testing.

Once the test results returned showing that the synthetic marijuana did in fact contain methanone, a Schedule I narcotic, police obtained arrest warrants for the previous sales and search warrants for the person then known as “Mike,” the store located at 10176 Alcovy Road and “Mike’s” vehicle.

Bradford said detectives learned that the suspect kept the synthetic marijuana under the counter in the store, behind a locked door. Sometime around 9 p.m. Friday, a police officer entered the convenience store and walked over to the area by the coolers. The officer told “Mike” — later identified as 46-year-old Mahemood Budhani of 121 N. Decatur Lane in Decatur — that something was leaking in order to get him to come out from behind the locked glass-in area.

Officers charged Budhani in connection with the previous sales and began searching the area where the synthetic marijuana was believed to be stashed.

“We found a substantial amount of various packages of synthetic marijuana. It was professionally packaged with different kinds of labels,” Bradford said. “We also found a substantial amount of money on his person in which some of our buy money was co-mingled.”

Budhani was charged with three counts of sale of synthetic marijuana and one count of possession with intent to distribute synthetic marijuana.

Bradford said detectives do not believe that the store manager was aware this activity was happening in the store.

Synthetic marijuana, which has been banned in the U.S. since 2012, is considered a designer drug in which herbs, incense or other leafy materials are sprayed with chemicals to mimic the effect of naturally grown marijuana, according to the website Drugs.com. It is commonly known as K2, Spice or Black Mamba. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has designated many active chemicals most frequently found in synthetic marijuana as Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to sell, buy, or possess them.

While many users believe synthetic marijuana is safer, reports and case studies have shown that the side effects of the drug are actually more dangerous than natural marijuana.