A Marietta man has been operating an illegal drug lab out of his smoke shop inside a strip mall on Roswell Road, police say.
Billy Scott Christian, 28, was arrested and booked into the Cobb County jail Tuesday night after Marietta officers raided his shop and house, finding over nine pounds of marijuana, four guns and a lab used to make cannabis gummies and capsules of a drug that has similar effects of heroin, police said.
Marijuana, which is illegal, has a common street value of about $300 an ounce, making the nine-plus pounds of cannabis product that police say they found in Christian’s possession worth over $40,000.
An oil sample from Christian’s store, Royal Cigar and Tobacco in the East Marietta Shopping Center, tested positive for THC, the active component of marijuana, police said.
This was part of an investigation by Marietta police into the sale and use of hemp and CBD oil — both legal products — prompted by warnings from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control about vaping-related deaths.
Samples were obtained and shipped to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation lab for testing,” Marietta police spokesman Chuck McPhilamy said in a news release Tuesday, confirming that Christian’s so-called “hemp oil” tested positive as THC oil, prompting officers to get search warrants for his property.
Officers said they raided the Royal Cigar and Tobacco store as well as Christian’s other business called Endangered Botanicals, located in the same shopping complex.
There they found over nine pounds of marijuana, multiple scales, “baggies,” three guns and the drug lab for manufacturing edible cannabis gummies and “kratom” capsules, McPhilamy said.
“More than one hundred pounds of those substances were collected for further testing,” he said, adding that kratom, an herb, acts as an opiate and has similar effects as heroin. “Investigators will work with the Cobb County District Attorney’s office to determine what charges may be appropriate related to this substance once the GBI confirms the actual chemicals being included with each capsule.”
At Christian’s Yancy Drive home, less than two miles along Lower Roswell Road from his smoke shop, police found more marijuana and another gun, police said.
Christian remains in custody without bond at the Cobb jail, facing four felonies, records show.
He is charged with three counts of possessing marijuana for sale or distribution and one count of possessing a gun or knife during a felony crime.
“This investigation is ongoing and additional charges against the business owner and any additional suspects will be filed pending the outcome of the test results,” McPhilamy said. “Additional information related to this investigation is limited as our work is not finished.”
Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn thanked Cobb County and GBI law enforcement personnel involved in the investigation.
“Who knows how many individuals may have consumed these items not knowing what they were actually doing, and how that could negatively impact their personal and professional lives or health,” Flynn said. “New threats from drugs are coming at us quickly. Any drug trend that poses a threat to the residents of the city of Marietta will become a priority for us as it was in this case.”