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Hudson man faces felony charges after 'Spice' arrest

A Hudson man accused of selling a dangerous drug that has caused a statewide health scare faces felony drug charges.

Pelham police arrested Christopher Matte, 43, on Friday and charged him with two counts of felony drug sales after officers with warrants conducted searches at two locations, including a store he owns where undercover investigators said they were able to purchase "Spice."

"Spice" is the street name for a synthetic cannabinoid that has resulted in dozens of people needing medical treatment. Pelham Sgt. Anne Perriello said Saturday that the effects of the illegal compound in "Spice," sometimes referred to as "synthetic marijuana," can be much more severe.

"The high potential for abuse is there. They are ingesting a chemical, which is different from smoking actual marijuana," Perriello said. "They don't know what's in there."During the search, Pelham police detectives and troopers from the New Hampshire State Police narcotics investigation unit recovered about $7,000 and more than 100 individual bags believed to include synthetic cannabinoid led Gov. Maggie Hassan to issue a state of emergency Thursday.

The products are often labeled as herbal incense and not for human consumption. Perriello said the substance becomes illegal when it is sprayed with the chemically engineered cannabinoid.

An undercover officer who went to Matte's business, Ace Discount Cigarettes on Bridge Street in Pelham, made several controlled buys and police sent samples to be tested at the state laboratory. Perriello said not all contained the "Spice" substance, but enough did to warrant the charges against Matte. Police said the products were often hidden from view and customers needed to know certain code names in order to make a purchase.

Matte was released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail and is scheduled to appear in Salem District Court on Sept. 22.

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