Father reflects on his son's death after synthetic marijuana sentencing

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -- One father knows too well the dangers of synthetic marijuana. After losing his son to the drug in 2013, he is upset after the sentencing Tuesday involving the owners of two smoke shops who were found guilty on six federal charges.

Steve Tucker is upset but also confused by the sentencing. Because of time already served, the two store owners will both spend less than 10 years in prison. In Tucker's opinion this isn't long enough.

"Everyday I wake up, 'Good morning Bill' that's how I have to greet my son, looking at a jar," said Tucker.

His urn rests in their hallway holding his son Billy's ashes. He passed away in 2013 after overdosing on synthetic marijuana or better known as K2. The family has never been able to prove where the drug came from but Tucker believes it was from one of the smoke shops in Lincoln.

Since his son's death he said he has worked to get the drug off the streets. He said he started working with LPD to stop smoke shops from selling any synthetic marijuana, which is sometimes sold as potpourri.

"We felt last year that we had accomplished our goal. Spent hours out there protesting. And there's pictures of me out there with Bill and my sign that... 'K2 kills just ask Bill," said Tucker.

Currently it's illegal to have synthetic marijuana in Nebraska. But because the chemists are always changing the chemical compound it's hard for lawmakers to keep up with banning all forms of the drug. That's in part what happened in this case.

A U.S. district court judge sentenced Allen Peithman to nearly 10 years in prison, and his mother, Sharon Elder, to more than 5 years.

Peithman's attorney said they were found guilty on six of the 14 federal charges. The charges they were found guilty of dealt with the sale or mis-branding of synthetic marijuana. However, a jury could not prove that either Peithman or Elder knowingly sold synthetic marijuana.

"My heart's aching more than anything over the ruling," said Tucker.

Both Peithman and Elder will face millions in fines and judgments. Tucker's main concern though is the jail time; he said it's not long enough.

"I'm grateful that she's going to spend time behind bars. But she's already spent a year behind bars. So now she'll be out in 4 years. So, what 2021... she'll be back on the streets again," said Tucker.

Peithman's attorney, Korey Reiman said he thinks the judge's sentence and ruling is actually too much.

"He (the judge) levied as severe a punishment as he could have on the case, and I suspect that had something to do with what he thought would be a deterrent effect," said Reiman.