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Man Defends Herbal Incense

January 6, 2012, 9:49 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Man Defends Herbal Incense
SIOUX FALLS, SD -  It's showing up in schools and causing more issues for police. But those who distribute "fake pot" say when used properly, their product is just like any other incense. And they want to set the record straight. 

It's showing up in schools and causing more issues for police. But those who distribute "fake pot" say when used properly, their product is just like any other incense. And they want to set the record straight.

"This is how it's properly supposed to be used," herbal incense salesman Jon F. said (as he moves the herbs around a small metal bowl above an open flame).

And to herbal incense salesman who only wants to be identified as "Jon F." that's the way he expects his product to be used -- herbs and oil over a candle, not rolled like a joint.

"[People use it] just like any other reason why anyone would buy incense, they like the smell of it or they want to clear a smell out of their house," John F. said. "Just like if they burned something on the stove and would light a candle or light incense,"

The oil makes the herbs more fragrant for longer periods of time, but the product's more sinister side is what's drawn a following. And it has prompted warnings from police, drug and alcohol counselors and teachers.

“It's strictly defined on the labels,” John F. said. “This is not for human consumption. And we do not promote that at all.”

But that isn't stopping other companies from marketing to teens. Jon F. believes the actions of some have hurt his business, saying he's lost five of eight stores that he used to sell to.

“We sit down with store owners and talk and tell them what it is and I highly recommend if anybody comes in and asks anything about the effect that you terminate the sale and ask them to leave,” John F. said.

While some see the problem only getting bigger, this distributor believes it's a fad that will go away. The question is whether outlawing the substances, and his business, will be the catalyst to do that or if the candle will simply die out on its own.

“Yeah, it's dangerous because it says you're not supposed to do it,” John F. said. “How much more cut and dried can I be?”

Jon F. says there are more than 500 brands of the substance, so any law that limits their use would be difficult, at best.

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