Zoning board revokes Greenville smoke shop's license after raid - FOX Carolina 21

Zoning board revokes Greenville smoke shop's license after raid

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The smoke shop along E. Stone Ave. (Jan. 16, 2014/FOX Carolina) The smoke shop along E. Stone Ave. (Jan. 16, 2014/FOX Carolina)
The shop's owner (left) and his attorney. (Jan. 16, 2014/FOX Carolina) The shop's owner (left) and his attorney. (Jan. 16, 2014/FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A Greenville smoke shop is out of business, after the zoning board voted to uphold a prior decision to revoke its business license Thursday.

Greenville County narcotics officers said the Whatever and More shop at 108 E. Stone Ave.  sold synthetic marijuana to undercover agents last fall and was also performing body piercings without a permit.

An undercover officer said during a raid last month they also discovered the tools to manufacture synthetic marijuana inside the business.

The officers presented photographs as evidence to the board Thursday night, asking the members to vote to keep the business closed.

Business owner Kenneth Gilliam and his attorney were at the zoning meeting. The attorney said his client had used the manufacturing items more than four years ago, when it was still legal to create the substance, but has not manufactured since.

An undercover narcotics officer who spoke at Monday's meeting, but whose identity cannot be revealed, said he doesn't believe the business hasn't been manufacturing the drug recently.

"It's hard for me to imagine if someone stopped doing something because it became illegal, they would leave the manufacturing stuff around for four years, and not clean it up when they know it is illegal," said the officer.

The owner's legal team also claimed the illegal substances an undercover officer had purchased from the store recently was not manufactured in the business, and the owner did not realize it contained illegal drugs.

"He did rely on a manufacture's lab report that stated there was nothing illegal in there," said attorney Chip Price. "His reliance was misplaced, but it's not going to happen again."

Price told the board that if they allowed Whatever to stay open, things would be different.

"My client has absolutely no intention of selling herbs, incense or anything else of that nature from this point forward," said Price.

However, four different residents who live and work near the Stone Avenue location also spoke out against the business at the meeting.

"The clientele they are attracting has caused us some problems," said Bob Yearkrick, who owns a business next to Whatever. "We had a point where our employees were fearful about coming to work, they didn't feel comfortable coming to work in this area."

City officials said Gilliam has been charged with two counts of selling illegal substances.

Gilliam and his attorneys said they would not comment on the outcome of Thursday's meeting, pending the completion of the criminal investigation.

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