Smoke shop raided after 28 people hospitalized

Police believe people bought synthetic marijuana

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Police raided a Gainesville smoke shop over the weekend after they said 28 people showed up at the hospital within 24 hours.

Detectives believe all the people bought a particularly dangerous batch of synthetic marijuana, also known as Spice, and got sick from the chemicals in it. Some had seizures and one rescuer had to do CPR on one person.

No one's been arrested so far, but police said charges are likely for the owners of the store.

Police said they've had their eyes on The Land B4 Time Smoke Shop for quite a while, but when detectives found out that more than two dozen people were hospitalized, some of them nearly dying, they decided it was time to step in.

"He said he rolled himself up a blunt and smoked himself some Spice and it put him in the hospital for a couple of days," resident Sherwin Graham said of his cousin. "Scary stuff. I'm never going to be messing with it."

"There were police officers everywhere," car dealership owner Jeremy Pollard said. "They had the whole street blocked off."

Nearby business owners said they knew bad things were going on and the store brought nothing but trouble to the area.

"It was a nightmare," Pollard said. "Every single day there were random people walking in and out of that place that come by, asking for a few bucks here and there."

The storefront sits on Main Street, north of downtown Gainesville. On one side is a summer camp ministry for children. On the other side, right around the corner, is a police precinct.

Officer Ben Tobias said detectives knew the store was selling synthetic drugs, which is illegal, but they were gathering evidence to get a search warrant. When 28 people went to the hospital in just 24 hours, they knew it was time to raid the shop.

"We had one victim that required a CPR to be revived," Tobias said. "There is that line where you have to go, do (I) want to make a good court case and get the thing absolutely perfect? Or do I want to save lives? And with that many people starting to get injured with a toxic substance and we knew where it was coming from, we had to take action."

As police continue their investigation, a sign out front seems to say it all: "We are closed for ever."