SOLDOTNA, Alaska — An Alaska man accused of contributing to a synthetic marijuana epidemic on the Kenai Peninsula was sentenced to nearly six years in prison and 200 hours of community service.
Soldotna resident Phillip Kneeland was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to charges related to selling synthetic marijuana and possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.
In addition to jail time, he was ordered to forfeit his 2014 GMC truck, about $75,400 and four firearms.
Kneeland was arrested in 2015 after multiple agencies raided his business and reported finding about 6,000 packets of synthetic marijuana, often known as spice.
“The court heard testimony from a local resident and local law enforcement that the spice epidemic on the Kenai Peninsula has essentially disappeared since Kneeland’s arrest,” according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. “Kneeland’s sales triggered an epidemic of spice-related law enforcement responses on the Kenai Peninsula, including emergency room visits, suspected suicides and DUIs, severely impacting the community.”
Synthetic pot is an herbal mixture sprayed with laboratory-generated chemicals that mimic the effects of pot.
More than 1,300 people were transported to Anchorage hospitals because of synthetic pot between July 2015 and March 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.