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Store Owner Who Contributed to Peninsula Spice Epidemic Sentenced

Protesters outside of Tobacco Distress along the Sterling Highway. Image-DoJ

Protesters outside of Tobacco Distress along the Sterling Highway. Image-DoJ

Kenai Peninsula residents and law enforcement say that since the arrrest of Philip Drake Kneeland for Spice Distribution, the Spice epidemic and problems arising from it have essentially disappeared in that area of the state.

Kneeland was arrested in the fall of 2015 for “possession of synthetic cannabimimetic agents with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime,” the Justice Department reported.

Since that time, Kneeland, who owned Tobacco Distress at mile 91.5 of the Sterling Highway, has pleaded guilty to those offenses and has recently been sentenced. Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess sentenced Kneeland to 70 months  in prison and Kneeland was also ordered to forfeit approximately $75,400, a 2014 GMC truck and four firearms. He must also perform 200 hours of community service following his release.

According to court documents, Kneeland’s actions distributing Spice, which contains JWH-18 and JWH-073, which is a federally controlled substance, contributed to multiple emergency room visits, suspected suicides, and DUIs. The explosion of Spice overdose emergency calls claimed many and put a strain on first responders. 

Kenai peninsula residents openly protested the Spice sales by Kneeland by protesting outside of his business in the fall of 2015.

DEA, IRS agents, the Kenai Police Department, along with AST participated in the investigation of this case.