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The laws were already a step behind. In Kansas and Missouri, only the specific JWH synthetic cannabinoids would be outlawed. But the synthetic cannabinoid compound is a large chemical structure with hundreds of variations, some of which bond with the brain's cannabinoid receptors to get you high, some of which don't. After the structures being used in K2 were banned, the anonymous chemists who produced and distributed these drugs simply moved down the line, settling on the next deviation that got you high.
While the rest of Kansas City's K2 salesmen were emptying their inventories and waiting to unveil the new stuff, Riggs seized the opportunity to let people know that a new party was about to start. More important, it was a way to make sure they knew Coffee Wonk was at the center of it. He called it the "Great Midwestern Burnout."
To be safe, Riggs didn't advertise the event's location, telling customers instead to come into the shop for details. Not that the locale was all that clandestine: The event happened just down the street, in the parking lot behind another building that Riggs had recently bought. By 10 p.m., the lot was packed with people saying what they thought was goodbye to synthetic weed, lighting up joints and listening to bands that had volunteered their services. The police didn't notice or didn't care.
Riggs spent the last hour of the night making sure his K2 supply was gone before the clock hit midnight. Then he walked onto a stage and unveiled the new strain, called Heaven Scent. (Now it's more popularly known as Syn.)
Syn kept the customers coming, and with a bill already passed, lawmakers stopped talking about the need to protect underage children from mysterious drugs. Every store that sold K2 started offering Syn or one of the dozens of new varieties being distributed.
It's not even confined to specialty shops anymore. The cashier windows of many midtown gas stations are now wallpapered with 3-gram bags of incense, branded with the words "Not for Human Consumption." They go by K3, KFREE and a dozen other names. So far, no politician has tried to stop any of them.
With the money still flowing, Riggs has expanded. This summer he bought that second building, two blocks south of Coffee Wonk. You wouldn't know it by its dull-beige façade, but inside is a cavernous recording studio, where newly relocated Highpoint Recording has been making everything from Christian rock to a Christmas album produced by Rick Derringer, the '70s one-hit wonder.
"The first time I met Micah, I didn't know what to think," says Highpoint owner Joe Mills, who moved his business from Lenexa into Riggs' studio. "But he didn't wear a suit or a tie, and he treated everyone with respect, so that was a good start."
Around the same time, Riggs also purchased space in an empty storefront on 39th Street, where he plans to open Amor Picante, a South American restaurant.
His cannabinoid dream reaches beyond Kansas City, too. Next month he'll open a second Coffee Wonk, in Cocoa Beach, Florida — a tourist spot in the shadow of NASA's base at Cape Canaveral. K2 is still legal in Florida, and Riggs is working to keep it that way.
"This is a business issue for me, but it's also an individual-liberty issue," he says. "If we can make this a way to argue about medical marijuana, I'm happy to do that. I just think that if people want to smoke, as long as they're not hurting anyone and they're not abusing, let them do it in their own homes."