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Ex-Trashman Makes Killing on Pot-Like High Product

Derek Williams/facebook

By Justin Blum
Bloomberg

Derek Williams was working as a trash-truck driver when his cousin told him about K2, a product made from plant materials and chemicals that provided a legal, marijuana-like high. Williams saw his ticket out of the residential rubbish business: Make a better blend.

He studied compounds that mimic the effects of pot, and almost a year after creating his own brand, Syn Incense, in his home in Kansas City, Missouri, Williams, 29, said he has sold more than $1.5 million worth in at least 10 states. Marketing the product as incense helps him avoid federal regulations, even though he said he knows most customers smoke it.

His ability to stay a step ahead of federal and state authorities underscores the hurdles regulators face as they move to ban chemicals used in such products, which they say may pose serious and unknown dangers. Williams said when his ingredients are restricted, he switches to similar ones.

“It became a money-making machine,” said Williams, adding that he hopes the business will lead to early retirement.

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