A Pine service station is the first to pull a synthetic marijuana product from its shelves voluntarily.
Taylor’s Gas & Auto Repair, 3597 N. Highway 87, removed the popular products a month ago after several locals protested its sale.
Fossil Creek Creamery owner John Bittner and Realtor Wilma Young were two of the people who told the service station if they continued to sell the products, commonly known as potpourri and spice, that they would take their business elsewhere.
Don Taylor, the service station’s owner, said selling the products was not worth it if it upset the community and could potentially injure someone.
“It is not worth it if someone could get hurt,” he said Monday from the small gas station.
Taylor said potpourri was the shop’s top seller in the months he had it available.
On average, he made upwards of $50 profit a day on the products, outselling even gasoline and snacks.
Taylor started selling the substance, with the cheapest amount at $6, after a sales representative told him the products were selling outstandingly well in Payson, one service station owner buying thousands of bags of the product.
Once he had it on his shelves, the product sold quickly as well. Clerks were instructed to sell it only to adults.
Potpourri is typically sold in small, colorful pouches, marked “not for human consumption.” Taylor said he assumed the products were used to scent a home, especially since they came in tropical flavors and were marked as potpourri.
Taylor, who has owned the station for 10 years, said the product was helping the small business turn a profit, especially during the winter months when things slow down. However, when several locals spoke out against its sale, he thought twice about it realizing if a couple people are upset, there were likely more.
When the store ran out of the product a month ago, Taylor told staff he would not buy again.
A handful of stores in Payson continue to sell the products. In recent weeks, a dozen people protested the sale of it at the One Stop gas station in Payson.
In the Valley, where Taylor owns a handful of service stations, potpourri didn’t sell nearly as well as it did in Pine. Taylor is not selling the product at any of those stores anymore.
When Young heard Taylor was selling the products, she immediately went over and said she would no longer shop there.
Young even drafted a letter that several other people in the Coldwell Banker real estate office signed and delivered it to the gas station. Young said when she heard potpourri was available in Pine it “blindsided” her.
“Here I am, right next door and I didn’t know it,” she said. “Our kids don’t need anymore of that stuff in their life, there is enough harmful stuff out there.”
Bittner agreed, saying the product, although legal, is dangerous.
“I didn’t think that was a smart thing to have in our community,” he said.
Although the current version of potpourri is legal to sell, it doesn’t mean it is “moral or good for the community,” he said.
One Pine resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said his 19-year-old grandson had bought potpourri from Taylor’s.
His grandson, like many users, used the product because they said they could not get in trouble and got a similar high to that of marijuana.
Unlike marijuana, however, potpourri is made of various chemicals and can cause strong reactions including hallucinations and seizures.
“It is scary stuff,” the man said. “You never know what you are ingesting.”
Last year, several versions of the drug known as spice were outlawed, but manufacturers found a way around the legislation by slightly altering the chemical compounds.
The state and local officials are working to outlaw the sell of the products.
Recently in Show Low, the city council passed an emergency ordinance making it illegal to possess or sell bath salts and other products with a similar chemical makeup.